Merkur awarded Better Place assets, Abramowitz to maintain IP

Operational assets,held by liquidators had a price tag of NIS 18 million, while the IP rights were registered in Switzerland.

By
August 25, 2013 21:42
3 minute read.
YOSEF ABRAMOWITZ.

YOSEF ABRAMOWITZ 300. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Central District Court Sunday agreed to sell the assets of the defunct Better Place electric car company to the Tzahi Merkur's Success Group for NIS 11 million on Sunday, after a series mishaps and mishandlings prevented EV Group, the original purchaser, from coming through on payments. The EV group, however, will maintain the company's intellectual property rights.

The operational assets, being held by liquidators Sigal Rosen-Rechav and Shaul Kotler, originally had a price tag of NIS 18 million, while the IP rights were registered in Switzerland.

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Success Group will have until September 30th to make its first payment, NIS 2 million. The court decision specified that the group would be responsible for continued payments even if, for example, vehicles were not released by the state - the problem the EV group cited for its failure to come up with payments. The court agreed, however, that the purchase price could drop NIS 2 million if the Supreme Court invalidated sales of cars over 12 months old.

The court will reconvene on Thursday at 1:00 p.m. to address remaining issues.

The Green EV consortium, led by American-Israeli solar entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz, originally acquired both the Better Place operational assets and intellectual property on July 10.

During his opening speech in court on Sunday, Abramowitz stressed that the "liquidators misrepresented to us and our investors two key economic drivers."

"They claimed before we bid for the assets of Better Place that the company has a database of all the drivers who will pay in NIS 1m. a month and over 350 cars that we would be able to sell to help cover our costs," Abramowitz continued.  "Both turned out to be false. To date, they have denied us the ability to sell cars and there was no database for us to bill the drivers, so we and our investors were left out to hang. This is a miscarriage of justice and we shouldn't be paying the price."



Following Green EV's acquisition of the company, Central District Court Deputy President Ilan S. Shiloh granted the consortium an extension on an initial NIS 3.5m. payment for the assets, due to the fact that the Transportation Ministry had not yet renewed the import licenses necessary to transfer 350 Better Place cars to the consortium. Green EV had planned to sell the first 200 at NIS 70,000 each, for a total of NIS 14m. – money that the consortium would have used to make all milestone and operational payments for the next few months, Abramowitz explained.

However, a rival would-be purchaser Merkur-CCGI – made up of Tsahi Merkur's firm Success Parking Ltd. and the Florida-based Car Charging Group, Inc. – filed a request to the court at the end of July, stressing that Green EV would not be able to stand by its financial commitments.

In a court discussion that ensued on July 31, Shiloh decided that the Transportation Ministry must re-approve the licenses for the 350 vehicles by August 6. Within 14 days of receiving the licenses – or by August 21 at the latest – Green EV would need to make good on the NIS 3.5m. payment.

Neither commitment has been fulfilled to date.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Ministry declared on Thursday that Green EV had not submitted all necessary documentation to the office, rendering it "impossible to approve the registration and import of the vehicles." The ministry also explained that the issue that the vehicles are 12 months past the date of manufacture and therefore cannot be released to the consortium was undergoing judiciary proceedings.

In response, a spokesman for Green EV asserted that same day that all documents had, in fact, been submitted as required, and that the only dispute was regarding a transfer of NIS 8m. to the liquidators, who were blocking the Transportation Ministry from enabling the sale of the cars.

While whoever takes over the operational assets already will have a license to use the Better Place intellectual property in Israel, Abramowtiz told The Jerusalem Post that the consortium's decision to maintain the intellectual property rights is critical nonetheless.

The intellectual property, he explained, "is the most valuable part of the portfolio" because of its ability to bring an idea "made in Israel" around the world. With the intellectual property, the consortium will be able to spread the idea of managed charging, battery swapping, smart charge points and on-board power management throughout the globe, Abramowitz added. All of this, he said, could enable Israel "to be an ongoing catalyst to promote the infrastructure to switch from polluting gasoline and diesel to electric power."


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