Closure of Eilat Port tender postponed

Opposition threatened to take action if Israel Chemicals was awarded the tender.

July 9, 2012 23:13
1 minute read.
Container ship (illustrative)

Container ship 370. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)

The Government Companies Authority postponed the closure of bids for the privatization of the Eilat Ports Company late Sunday, after the opposition threatened to take action if Israel Chemicals was awarded the tender.

The GCA moved the closure date to August 15, while stating that it recognizes the importance of competition for the acquisition of state assets.

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ICL, a unit of Ofer Brothers Group subsidiary Israel Corporation, was the only company to file the NIS 15 million guarantee by the original closure date last week. Three other companies – Papo Maritime, Gold Bond Group, and Gadot Chemicals Tankers and Terminals – withdrew bids because of the NIS 100m. starting price.

Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) wrote to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the GCA on Sunday, warning that she would petition the High Court of Justice if the tender was not canceled immediately.

“This is the third time state assets are being transferred to the same solitary bidder,” Yacimovich wrote. “This is a case of one family dangerously gaining control of Israel’s key infrastructure through its many subsidiaries and its subsidiaries’ subsidiaries.”

Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On and fellow MK Ghaleb Majadle (Labor) also called for the government to cancel the tender in a joint statement Sunday, saying that Ofer Brothers would pocket millions of shekels at the expense of future state revenues.

ICL officials rejected the criticism as “populist,” saying the company is the largest employer in the Negev and the largest exported in the country.

Meanwhile, the Eilat Ports Company transferred NIS 69.6m. in dividends to the state in a ceremony at Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz’s office Monday morning. GCA manager Roni Friedman, EPC chairman Shabtai Tzur and EPC CEO Avishai Cohen all participated in the ceremony.

Globes contributed to this report.

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