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A third and improved offer to purchase Jerusalem's venerable but debt-ridden Bikur Holim Hospital was presented by Official Receiver Shlomo Shahar and his representative Ya'acov Spiegelman before the Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday evening.
The $25.5 million bid - $1.5m. higher than the last bid presented to and rejected by the court over a month ago - was made by a group of investors headed by ophthalmologist Dr. Shmuel Levinger and entrepreneur Shmaya Reichman.
The new offer increases from five to "at least 15 years" the time that the would-be purchaser would be committed to run the general hospital located in downtown Jerusalem. It also doubles the number of beds that the would-be purchaser would have to operate.
The Levinger-Reichman group said it aimed to develop the hospital, including the opening of new activities and departments.
The court asked the Official Receiver to bring to it within a week a comparison of all the previous bids for the hospital and to obtain answers to questions the court raised during Tuesday's session.
The court also asked the Receiver to hold more talks with the Treasury about ensuring the payment of pensions to several hundred retired staffers, who have received their monthly payments either in part or late from the Finance Ministry over nearly two years.
No long-term solution to the pension problem has been found during negotiations for the sale of the hospital, although the Treasury has said that in principle, the state is willing to allocate most of the funds from the sale of the voluntary hospital to solve the pensioners' problems.
Two previous bids have already been turned down by the court because they did not take the pensioners into account or did not meet the criteria for a sale.
Hospital director-general Bari Bar-Zion told the court that Shahar and his team were doing all they could to ensure that the sale would bring the highest possible price so that pensions could be financed and the 175-year-old institution could continue to function as a general hospital in the existing location.
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