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Israel court okays Mizrahi Bank's acquisition of Union Bank

Israel's antitrust court on Thursday ruled in favour of the acquisition of Union Bank of Israel by rival Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, overturning an earlier decision by the antitrust authority to block the deal.

TEL AVIV, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Israel's antitrust court on Thursday ruled in favour of the acquisition of Union Bank of Israel UNON.TA by rival Mizrahi Tefahot Bank MZTF.TA, overturning an earlier decision by the antitrust authority to block the deal.

Israel's third-largest lender late in 2017 agreed to buy Union, the sixth-largest bank, in an all share deal valued at 1.4 billion shekels ($404 million).

The court overturned a decision from May 2018 by the anti-trust authority, who rejected the deal saying the disappearance of Union Bank as a competitor likely would harm competition over private customers in the banking sector. The acquisition received the support of the country's banking regulator.

Mizrahi appealed this decision in the court, arguing that Union Bank's market share was too small to impact competition.

In accordance with the court's decision, the acquisition will have to abide by certain conditions that have yet to be determined regarding credit to the diamonds sector.

($1 = 3.4684 shekels)

(Reporting by Tova Cohen Editing by Steven Scheer)

((tova.cohen@thomsonreuters.com; +972-9-899-0222; Reuters Messaging: tova.cohen.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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