Mysterious Buyer Approaches El Al

YERUSHALAYIM -
The empty incoming flights hall at Ben Gurion International Airport. (Flash90)

El Al Airlines may be saved from a return to the status of state property by the emergence of an unidentified buyer, said to be motivated by patriotic feelings to rescue the national flagship carrier from collapse.

The investor’s representative, Brig. Gen (res.) Reem Aminoach, has notified El Al of his intentions. If the request for a government permit to acquire control of the company is accepted, Harel Locker, chairman of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has agreed to serve as trustee, Globes reported on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the investor’s request was on hold after El Al’s board of directors voted to accept the state’s rescue plan and begin the process of a public offering on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), which will likely lead to nationalization as the state buys most of the new shares.

Under the Ministry of Finance plan, the government would guarantee 75% of a $250 million loan and $150 million would be offered in new shares, with the government buying all shares not purchased by the public.

However, El Al might prefer the private option, in light of its reluctance to commit to the stringent terms of the government bailout, which will entail mass layoffs.

Given the bleak financial condition of El Al due to the pandemic, the question immediately arose as to why anyone would want to buy it at a total loss.

A source close to the person told Globes: “We are talking about a person who donates generously, and in this way he can help the company and its employees and he knows that he won’t see profits in the near future.”