El Al prospective buyer flies to Israel to discuss sales bid

There are currently several bidders wanting to take control of the airline.

THE El Al airliner carrying Israeli and US delegates approaches to land at Abu Dhabi International Airport on Sunday. (photo credit: REUTERS)
THE El Al airliner carrying Israeli and US delegates approaches to land at Abu Dhabi International Airport on Sunday.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli businessman Meir Gurvitz flew to Israel on Tuesday, paying a visit to the Jewish stat to promote his bid to buy a portion of El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. – meeting with senior sources involved in the El Al bid during his brief stay.
He is looking to offer a “friendly” purchase model for his El Al bid, noting that he is willing to share ownership of the company with the current controlling shareholders, Knafaim Holdings.
Gurvitz, 56, works out of the US and filed an application to the Companies Authority for a permit that would allow him to purchase between 25% and 40% of the airline’s shares. He was born in Kiryat Ata, leaving the country when he was 15 to study at a religious college in northern England. After moving to London, he began trading building materials, leading him to a successful career in real estate.
In 1996, Gurvitz made his first significant fortune after a successful investment during a period of depression in the British real estate market with his then-business partner Moti Zisser.
There are currently several other bidders wanting to take control of the airline, including the Rozenberg family – who offered the Israeli airline $100 million for the purchase.
Eli Rozenberg’s bid is intended to gain a 45% controlling stake in the airline. He even set up a company to secure the purchase, and intends to name former US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt to the El Al board of directors if the deal goes through.
Israeli-Russian businessman David Sapir also offered a bid, to control 38% of the airline, receiving a “letter of encouragement” from El Al’s board of directors to go forth in obtaining a $400 million loan from Deutsche Bank, which apparently offers better terms than Israeli lenders, according to Globes.
However, sources close to Gurvitz claim that the meetings may “reshuffle the deck,” bringing him to the forefront of discussions to become the ideal candidate.
Following the dire financial condition of El Al amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Finance Ministry made it clear that to get the much-needed aid for the company, they will have to put a large portion of its shares up for sale, according to Bloomberg News.
The company needs to raise at least NIS 505 million ($148 m.) in shares. In return, it would get a yearned-for state-guaranteed loan – worth millions.
The government has committed to purchasing some NIS 265 million of El Al stock in a public offering – if no one else does – which in turn will be sold within two years.
The remainder is intended to be covered through a sale to private buyers. El Al has until September 10 to put its shares up for sale.
The company’s management is currently studying the proposal; no decision has yet been made.
The original deadline set by the ministry was August 30. However, after not having reached a decision, Transportation Minister Miri Regev intervened, telling the company that it must issue a share offering within the coming days.

Daniel Nisinman and Tamar Beeri contributed to this report.