Tel Aviv District Court Judge Varda Alshich on Tuesday approved the NIS 140
million sale of the newspaper Ma’ariv to Shlomo Ben-Tzvi, who will buy the paper
and associated assets, and Amos Maimon, who will buy the printing
Crucially the new owners have committed to continue to employ up
to 1,400 of Ma’ariv’s 2,000 workers – at least for a-year-and-a-half, in most
Only a few weeks ago, Ben-Tzvi had offered only NIS 74m., ensuring
the employment of at most 300 workers, and Ma’ariv’s trustees and management
were considering accepting.
Heavy pressure from the workers, who not only
created poor publicity regarding the deal, but are also owed around NIS 95m. of
the total NIS 408m. of Ma’ariv’s debt, was one of many factors that may have
influenced the change.
Because the workers are owed such a large
percentage of the debt, their opposition to the deal could have doomed it once
it was submitted to the court.
The new arrangement – which included
splitting some of the assets among two buyers, thus reducing the risk that each
buyer took on – appears to have been assured of approval, according to the
court’s decision, precisely because the workers eventually got behind
Ma’ariv’s trustees, attorneys Yaron Arbel and Shlomo Nass, who have
been overseeing the operations for the last several weeks, proposed the deal.
They were appointed only weeks ago to try and maximize Ma’ariv’s value as a
going concern or by liquidation, as they deemed fit, to best protect the paper’s
creditors, including the employees.
In the same court order, the court
froze any litigation against Ma’ariv to try to temporarily assist the paper and
its trustees in maximizing its chances of being sold as a going
The complex and sensitive negotiations with Ma’ariv’s workers
union continued through the night until 6 a.m. Tuesday, only shortly before the
The winning bid followed a competitive bidding process,
but it promised the highest purchase price and to save the most
There were a few remaining objectors at Tuesday’s hearing,
including a major secured creditor and one of Ma’ariv’s
However, the court said that their specific issues could be
addressed following the sale.
Further, the court said that each of their
objections, if used to hold up the sale, would not only damage all the other
parties involved by possibly stymieing Ma’ariv’s chance to be sold as a going
concern, but also damage the objectors’ long-term interests.
specifically noted that the earlier owners and management could still be sued
and prosecuted under the deal.
In many cases, sales of such companies
limit the liability of former owners and management. The fact that this deal
included no such limit lifted another potential obstacle to the deal’s
The court emphasized repeatedly that even if the agreement was
not perfect, it was undoubtedly the best one available and that Ma’ariv was and
would be in a state of virtual collapse and insolvency until the agreement was
Accordingly the court felt the situation required quick
approval and essentially gave the sides until October 29 to complete the
The only other legal obstacle was checking with the Antitrust
Authority if it needed to approve the arrangement.
The court expressed
confidence that the authority would move fast on any inquiries and approvals so
as not to hold up and ruin the deal.
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Ben Hartman and Nadav Shemer
contributed to this report.