Green EV consortium receives extension on Better Place payment

Judge: Transportation Ministry must free up electric cars by August 6.

BETTER PLACE CEO Evan Thornley 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Better Place)
BETTER PLACE CEO Evan Thornley 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Better Place)
Central District Court Judge Ilan S. Shiloh granted the Green EV consortium a further extension on the payment deadline for the group’s Better Place assets, requiring the Transportation Ministry to release the company’s vehicles from a bureaucratic holdup.
A court discussion on the subject took place on Wednesday at the request of rival would-be purchasers of the fallen electric vehicle venture, who had claimed that the Green EV consortium, led by American- Israeli solar entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz, would not be able to stand by its financial commitments.
Green EV, formerly known as SunRaise, won both the operational and intellectual property assets of Better Place in court on July 10, for a total of NIS 18 million and NIS 25m. respectively.
The competitor that filed the court request is the Merkur-CCGI group – a collaboration between the Florida-based Car Charging Group, Inc. and Tshai Merkur’s Israel-based Success Parkin Ltd. – which is also interested in acquiring the Better Place assets.
Although a payment of NIS 3.5m. was due last week, Green EV had received an extension until July 31 to fulfill the financial obligation.
The consortium had received 350 new Better Place cars as part of its purchase, and as there is a waiting list of 500 people still willing to buy the cars, Green EV had been planning to sell the first 200 at a discounted rate of NIS 70,000 each, for a total NIS 14m., Abramowitz explained to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. That sum was supposed to be used for all milestone and company operation payments for the next few months, including the NIS 3.5m. due on Wednesday and another equivalent payment at the end of August.
However, bureaucratic red tape at the Transportation Ministry is still holding up the sale of these cars, since the ministry had taken away the import license from these vehicles after the initial Better Place bankruptcy.
While Green EV has already received other financial offerings worth more than $30m., it takes about 30 to 60 days to conclude due diligence on these deals, Abramowitz said.
The Merkur-CCGI group, meanwhile, called the situation “not sound” and said that allowing the continued extensions constituted “a serious breach of equality.”
During Wednesday’s discussion, though, Shiloh set an ultimatum that the Transportation Ministry must reapprove the import licenses for the 350 electric cars by August 6 at 10 a.m.
Within 14 days from receiving the import license, Green EV must make good on its first NIS 3.5m. payment, the judge added.
In the meantime, Green EV pledged to give NIS 2m.
by 6 p.m. Monday to its attorney David Forer, who will hold the money as a trustee. The payment will be transferred to the guidance of the court, in order to pay for salaries, rent and continuing Israel operations of the assets.
Niv Elis contributed to this report.