December 1, 2015 / 10:51 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-China's Fosun looks to buy Israel gas fields from Delek -Israeli source

(Adds details, background)

JERUSALEM, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Chinese investment group Fosun International is interested in buying two small natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean from Israel’s Delek Group, a source close to Delek said on Tuesday.

Delek, which controls a number of gas fields offshore Israel, is being forced to sell off some assets by the government in an effort to open the sector to new competition.

According to a government plan expected to be implemented in the coming weeks, the company will have 14 months to find a buyer for the undeveloped Tanin and Karish fields, which have combined gas reserves of 3 trillion cubic feet.

“Fosun is interested in the two fields,” the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

A spokesperson for Fosun and officials at Delek declined to comment.

It would not be the first big deal between the companies. In June, Fosun bought a controlling stake in insurer Phoenix Holdings from Delek for 1.8 billion shekels ($464.12 million).

Already in the race is Italian utility Edison, which has entered talks to buy Tanin and Karish, and last month Israel’s energy minister discussed a possible sale with the CEO of rival Italian group ENI.

Earlier this month Delek paid its partner Noble Energy $67 million for the rights to sell Noble’s 47 percent stake in the two fields. ($1 = 3.8783 shekels) (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Tova Cohen and Louise Heavens)

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