Better place 311.
(photo credit: Better place)
In its first official response to electric car innovator Better Place’s petition
to appoint a liquidator, the state receiver told the Lod District Court on
Monday that “there is no choice but to appoint a temporary liquidator” to handle
the four subsidiaries that make up the company.
The receiver, who is the
official custodian of the state’s property and assets, added that the
appointment of a temporary liquidator for Better Place – the company that once
embodied Israeli green innovation – was necessary “in order to provide an urgent
administrative and legal response to the companies’ employees, customers,
suppliers and creditors.”
The Knesset Economics Committee said it would
hold a special hearing next week to discuss the various aspects of the company’s
closure, particularly the effect on Better Place customers.
committee’s chairman, Labor MK Avishai Braverman, spoke with Better Place CEO
Dan Cohen on Monday about the situation left in the wake of the company’s
Unlike some other recently bankrupt companies, Better
Place did not ask for the court to stay related court proceedings so that it
could continue operating, though it did request an order to appoint accountant
Yoav Kfir as its temporary liquidator.
Who the temporary liquidator is
can heavily impact how harshly a company’s missteps are investigated for
possible fraud, and many companies campaign to have a more “friendly” candidate
investigating them. Depending on the case, the temporary liquidator can also
In its response, filed by attorney Uri Wahlerstein, the
state receiver disputed Better Place’s request to appoint Kfir as temporary
The response said that “without denigrating his strong
capabilities, which are acceptable to the receiver, his appointment to the job
was proposed by the companies, whose conduct has to be examined in the
Therefore, the state receiver said that the court should
“consider neutral candidates to the position of temporary liquidator” as an
alternative, or in addition to Better Place’s suggested candidate.
of alternate experts was also included in the response, such as accountant Gabi
Trabelsi, attorney and accountant Sigal Rechav-Rozen, attorney Alona Baumgarten,
accountant Chaim Kimmel and attorney Elad Afari.
Renault SA, the maker of
the Fluence ZE electric car for Better Place, said that it was not notified
about the closing of the company and is demanding 65 million euros as a secured
creditor. It has filed a motion with the court to join the liquidation
proceedings and for the court to order Better Place to hand over all court
documents, according to Globes.
The four Better Place subsidiaries filed
their petition on Sunday after they became insolvent.
The petition states
that they owe external suppliers $40m., that the value of their assets is $9.5m.
and that its cumulative loss was $812m., a Globes report said.
significant efforts,” the firm announced, “revenues are still insufficient to
cover operating costs, and in the light of the continued negative cash flow
position, the board has decided that it has no option but to seek to make this application to the
courts for an orderly liquidation of the company.”
“This is a difficult
day for all of us,” said Better Place’s CEO, adding that despite its innovative
vision and accomplishments, the latest unsuccessful round of fund-raising left
the company financially unviable.
“Unfortunately, after a year’s
commercial operation, it was clear to us that despite many satisfied customers,
the wider public take-up would not be sufficient and that the support from the
car producers was not forthcoming,” he said.
The announcement spelled
uncertainty for Better Place car owners, who bet on the company’s continued
operation to provide electric infrastructure for their cars. Without
battery-switching stations, the cars will be limited to about 120 kilometers
before needing to be plugged in.
It will be up to the courts and the
liquidation team to determine how to compensate them, a task complicated by the
fact that some purchased four years’ worth of kilometers for their car batteries
ahead of time, while others bought them on a pay-as-you-go basis. Similarly,
some purchased their cars, while others had them on lease.
former SAP executive Shai Agassi in 2007, Better Place captured global attention
with its vision for making electric cars viable by building a battery-swapping
infrastructure to rival standard gas stations.
It had plans to launch in
Australia, Japan, China, Europe and the US.Niv Elis contributed to this