El Al Questions Intentions of Sole Potential Buyer

El Al Airlines planes are seen on the tarmac at Ben Gurion airport. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Eli Rozenberg, son of U.S. businessman Kenny Naftali Rozenberg, submitted last week a bid to buy 44.99% of El Al for $75 million, as is, without the need for any presentations. To prove the seriousness of the offer to El Al’s board of directors, a trustee account has been opened in which $15 million has been deposited. His offer is valid until August 31, 2020.

However, while the Government Companies Authority has yet to grant Rozenberg a permit to buy the airlines, El Al’s Board of Directors has expressed suspicion as to Rozenberg’s intentions, Globes reported.

El Al lawyer Dori Klagsbald commented that Rozenberg’s bid raises doubts, both about its seriousness and about the identity of the man behind the offer. Also unclear, writes Klagsbald, is what Rozenberg means by buying the company “as is” and without seeing “presentations.”

Rozenberg had harsh words for El Al’s reticence vis-à-vis his offer, which to date is the only bid on the table.

“Instead of saving the company, El Al continues on its track towards extorting money out of the government,” said Rozenberg.

The last day of Rozenberg’s offer coincides with the date on which the Ministry of Finance wants El Al to complete the assistance package to which it has agreed, which involves nationalization. El Al would take loans of $250 million, of which the government would guarantee 75% and raise $150 million on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, with all the shares likely bought by the government.

Sources close to Rozenberg say that he feels the El Al Board of Directors is trying to avoid a meaningful discussion about the offer.

As for why Rozenberg, a 30-year-old recent immigrant to Israel, would want to purchase a debt-mired airlines in the midst of the worst season in aviation history, a source close to Rozenberg said, referring to the prospective buyer’s father, that “Naftali’s Rav told him that he must purchase El Al. In everything his Rav told him to invest to date, he succeeded. So he decided to go for it.”

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