Better Place liquidators ask for emergency court meeting to rescind deal

Abramowitz: Liquidators are pushing the nuclear button prematurely and in breach of contract.

By
August 22, 2013 00:21
3 minute read.
Nadav in Better Place car

Nadav in Better Place car_390. (photo credit: Nadav Shemer)

Just six weeks after the Green EV consortium acquired the assets for Better Place, the fallen electric vehicle company's liquidators allegedly requested on Wednesday evening an emergency court meeting to rescind the deal, the consortium's head, American-Israeli Yosef Abramowitz, told The Jerusalem Post that night.

Green EV, formerly known as SunRaise, won both the operational and intellectual property at the Central District Court on July 10, for a total of NIS 18 million and NIS 25m. respectively. Upon declaring bankruptcy on May 26, Better Place had less than $9m. cash on hand, and had been taken on by liquidators Sigal Rosen-Rechav and Shaul Kotler.

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Following Green EV's acquisition of the company, Central District Court Judge Ilan Shiloh granted the consortium an extension on an initial NIS 3.5m. payment for the assets, due to the fact that the Transportation Ministry and the liquidators were holding up the transfer of 350 new Better Place cars to the consortium's hands. In response, rival would-be purchasers of the electric vehicle firm – Merkur-CCGI – filed a request to the court, stressing that Green EV would not be able to stand by its financial commitments. In a court discussion that ensued on July 31, Shiloh set an ultimatum that the Transportation Ministry must reapprove the import licenses for the 350 electric vehicles so that they can be transferred into Green EV's hands by August 6 at 10 a.m. Meanwhile, within 14 days of receiving the import license, Green EV would need to make good on its first NIS 3.5m. payment, the judge declared.

The import licenses have yet to be granted and the payment therefore has yet to occur. Nonetheless, Abramowitz told the Post, the Green EV consortium heads received a copy of a letter around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday that the liquidators had sent the court earlier that day – asking for an emergency meeting to cancel the deal. Green EV leaders were supposed to meet with the liquidators on Wednesday, but due to a personal conflict of the board's chairman, the meeting between the two bodies was rescheduled for Thursday at 3 p.m. The letter sent by the liquidators to court requests the emergency meeting as early as 3 p.m. on Thursday as well, Abramowitz said. "It's more than puzzling that they essentially used the nuclear option prior to the meeting to blow up the entire deal with the courts," he told the Post. "It completely torpedoes our ability to finish any of the investment deals, charge the drivers the back fees that they owe us." The current Better Place car drivers owe Green EV a total of NIS 2m., but because the billing system that the consortium inherited "was all a mess," reconstructing the system took time. Therefore, the consortium is just in the process now of billing the drivers, in order to be able to meet September payroll operations.

"The liquidators by pushing the nuclear button prematurely, while they are in breach of not giving us the cars to sell, are incredulous and irresponsible and undermine our ability to continue to deliver the service to the drivers," Abramowitz said. While the Transportation Ministry and the liquidators have yet to release the 350 cars now owned by Green EV, the consortium had planned to sell the first 200 at NIS 70,000 each, for a total of NIS 14m. – a sum that would have been used for all milestone and operational payments for the next few months, Abramowitz explained. "How can you charge us for the assets if you're not giving us the assets, and especially when those assets were meant to help us pay for our costs and give confidence to the investors?" he asked. Green EV had promised to keep at least 15 battery swap stations open and hire 50 employees, and the consortium has in the end kept 18 stations open and hired 60 employees, Abramowitz said. Since the takeover, Green EV has overseen 10,000 battery swaps and has allowed electric vehicles to drive over 2 million kilometers, he added. "We've kept our promise to maintain the service above and beyond," he said.

Explaining that Green EV has informed the liquidators that the consortium considers them in breach of contract, Abramowitz stressed that his team had good news to deliver to their planned meeting tomorrow regarding future financial commitments. The commitments, he said he now feared, would "probably be undone" due to the liquidators' request. "This premature nuclear option will definitely threaten not only the payment of the drivers but the closing of deals with our investor base," Abramowitz said. "Imagine the emotional rollercoaster of these drivers." "I think it's a historic tragic day for the electric vehicle industry," he added.


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