(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Lod District Court on Monday approved a 30-day stay of legal proceedings against supermarket chain Mega, as crowds of workers protested outside the courtroom.
The chain failed to make some NIS 50 million in payments to suppliers on Friday, despite the fact that it has roughly NIS 160m in cash on hand. The heavily indebted chain chose instead to head to court, and shuttered its stores on Monday. Suppliers said that money should be used to pay their debts rather than fall under the court’s protection.
The court appointed Gabi Trabelsi, Ehud Dines and Amir Bartov as trustees, tasked with trying to restore the company and sell it, either as a whole or in branches. Rami Levy, who owns a competing discount chain, told financial paper Globes that he was considering buying the chain.
The trustees were instructed to pay special attention to the fates of the 3,500 workers still employed by the grocery chain. They will have a week to update the court on their plan of action.
Some politicians panned Avigdor Kaplan and David Weissman, executives at Mega’s parent company, for taking large bonuses of NIS 560,000 and NIS 1.35 million respectively while Mega ailed.
MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Union) said, “At a time when the Mega chain is preparing to fire 3,500 workers, we discover the bonuses that the Alon company approved.”
She continued, “It cannot be that while the company is battling over its future and on the jobs of those who are hardly getting by, the board – apparently out of touch – would approve bonuses for executives.”
Executives, she added, should be compensated, and compensated well, when their business is thriving, not when it is falling apart.
Yaakov Halperin, the CEO of Halperin Optica, called on Israel’s other large chains to absorb Mega’s workers. His company would hire 60, he said.