El Al to be sold on stock exchange?

JERUSALEM, May 28 (JTA) — A committee set up to examine privatizing Israel’s national carrier, El Al, has recommended that 100 percent of the airline’s capital be sold on the Tel Aviv stock exchange in the first half of 1998. The committee recommended that all the stocks be sold at once in stocks and warrants. It rejected the prospect of trying to sell the airline to a strategic investor, out of concern that the airline’s heavy losses would prevent it from fetching a good price. One of the obstacles to privatization, a ban on flying on Shabbat, was dealt with in the committee’s report, which said that the airline should be allowed to fly on the Sabbath, as long as it does not increase the overall air traffic on this day. Media reports have said that El Al expected to lose $40 million dollars in 1997, following sharp losses the previous year.

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