|Gil Sharon, (chairman)|
David Mizrahi, (CEO)
|Products||Fixed line, Mobile telephony, Internet, Cable television|
|Revenue||₪9.98 billion (2015)|
Number of employees
|Subsidiaries||Pelephone, Walla!, yes|
Bezeq (Hebrew: בזק) is an Israeli telecommunications company. Bezeq and its subsidiaries offer a range of telecom services, including fixed-line, mobile telephony, high-speed Internet, transmission, and pay TV (via Yes).
Bezeq was founded in 1984 as a government-owned corporation, taking over the provision of telephony services in Israel, which had been run directly by the Ministry of Communications. The previous system was highly bureaucratic, requiring customers to wait lengthy periods of time for a telephone line.
In the late 1980s Anat Hoffman founded a group to protect the interests of Bezeq customers. A major complaint was that Bezeq did not send customers itemized bills. 46 cases were brought to small claims court and the consumers won 43 of them. Within two years of the campaign. consumers began to receive itemized bills.
In 1998, Bezeq co-founded Yes, a direct-broadcast satellite provider, which began broadcasting in July 2000.
In January 2012, Bezeq International Optical System was completed, a submarine telecommunication cable linking Tel Aviv and Bari in Italy. The system spans 2,300 km of cable, and extended terrestrially from Bari through Interoute's network to major European cities.
In April 2012, Bezeq acquired full ownership of Walla! Communications, Israel's leading Internet portal, which has more than 2.5 Million monthly unique users. Bezeq operates the B144 directory enquiries and yellow pages brand.
Loss of monopoly status
In 1997, two new competitors were introduced in international calling services (Barak and Golden Lines), and Bezeq was obliged to establish a new subsidiarity to compete with them named Bezeq International.
Until the mid-first decade of the 21st century when it was owned by the Israeli government, Bezeq had a monopoly on landline telephony and Internet access infrastructure (ADSL VDSL2). Though still the most dominant provider of telephone services, it has had competition from the sole cable provider in the country (since September 2006), Hot, which offers a cables based telephone and internet access services as of 2005, and with 012 Smile and more recently 013 netvision and Orange.
On 9 May 2005, Israel's Government Companies Authority, headed by Eyal Gabbai privatized Bezeq when 30% of its shares were sold by the state to the Apax-Saban-Arkin investment group for $972 million.
The cellular communications provider Pelephone is a fully owned subsidiary of Bezeq. Bezeq is also the largest shareholder in D.B.S. Satellite Services (1998) Ltd., known by its trademark name, Yes, the DBS television provider in Israel.
In late 2017, bank filed a petition against Elovitch to break up Eurocom Group to pay back loans totaling $275 million. This would directly impact the 10% shareholding in Bezeq, including Elovitch's 26% controlling stake. Meir Shamir has expressed interest in buying a controlling stake, effectively cancelling the debt to the banks. Two other investors have also expressed interest in purchasing a stake in Bezeq, including Argentine investor Eduardo Elsztain and Elliott Management, who announced they had recently purchased a 4,8% stake.
The company's fixed-line domestic communications segment offers domestic carrier services, including basic telephony, Internet infrastructure and access services, and transmission and data communications services. This segment also provides infrastructure, transmission, billing, leasing space, and related services for other communications operators, operates and maintains radio transmitters, carries out set-up and operation works of networks or sub-networks for various customers and offers virtual private networks, data center, and search engine services.
B Communications, founded in 1999 as 012 Smile.Communications, is a publicly traded company. It currently functions as a holding company of Bezeq and is headquartered in Ramat Gan, Israel. Its shares are traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market and on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. B Communications is controlled by Searchlight II BZQ L.P (60%) and TNR investments Ltd (11%).
Controversy and criticism
Police investigation and graft probe
In 2018 the company announced that company CEO Stella Handler would be resigning her position. She is one of several Bezeq employees under investigation by the Israel Securities Authority and the Israel Police regarding Bezeq's purchase of Yes shares and allegations of improper dealings with the Israeli Ministry of Communication. Also in 2018, board members Shaul Elovitch, Or Elovitch and Orna Elovitch resigned as a result of Case 4000, an ongoing corruption investigation involving the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Involvement in Israeli settlements
On 12 February 2020, the United Nations published a database of 112 companies helping to further Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as in the occupied Golan Heights. These settlements are considered illegal under international law. Bezeq was listed on the database on account of its "provision of services and utilities supporting the maintenance and existence of settlements" and "the use of natural resources, in particular water and land, for business purposes" in these occupied territories.
On 5 July 2021, Norway's largest pension fund KLP said it would divest from Bezeq together with 15 other business entities implicated in the UN report for their links to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
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As the largest telecommunication operator in Israel, Bezeq provides wired and wireless telephone and other communications services to consumer and business subscribers throughout Israel.
- Horesh, Hadar. "Apax-Saban-Arkin group big winners of Bezeq tender - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News". Haaretz.com. Retrieved 9 December 2011.[dead link]
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- Arnold, Michael (20 December 2017). "Israeli Banks Take Telecoms Tycoon Elovitch to Bankruptcy Court". Bloomberg.
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- "Stella Handler to resign from Bezeq - Globes English". Globes. 19 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
- Rochvarger, Michael; Ziv, Amitai (26 February 2018). "Shaul Elovitch and Relations Step Down From Embattled Bezeq Board". Haaretz. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
- staff, T. O. I. "Top officials, executives revealed as arrested suspects in Bezeq graft probe". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
- "UN rights office issues report on business activities related to settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory". Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 12 February 2020. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
- "UN Security Council Resolution 2334, 2016 (S/RES/2334(2016))". United Nations Security Council. 23 December 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
- "Database of all business enterprises involved in certain activities relating to Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank (A/HRC/43/71)". UN OCHA. 12 February 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2021.
- Fouche, Gwladys; Jessop, Simon (5 July 2021). "Nordic fund KLP excludes 16 companies over links to Israeli settlements in West Bank". Reuters. Retrieved 13 September 2021.