"Makor Rishon" publisher Shlomo Ben-Tzvi is in advanced talks to acquire Hebrew daily "Ma'ariv" from Nochi Dankner. Sources inform ''Globes'' that Ben-Tzvi has been in talks with IDB Holding Corp. Ltd. (TASE:IDBH) unit Discount Investment Corporation (TASE: DISI), which owns Ma'ariv Holdings Ltd. (TASE: MARV-M), for a month.
Ben-Tzvi has had several meetings with Dankner and Ma'ariv Holdings CEO Tal Raz. Ben-Tzvi will reportedly not assume Ma'ariv's debts, but only its assets, including the newspaper, at a value of a few tens of millions of shekels. It is not year clear whether IDB will keep some kind of partnership in the newspaper, or will abandon it altogether, in view of its dire straits.
Ben-Tzvi has extensive media interests. He currently owns the newspaper "Makor Rishon", and he wants to put its hard right wing orientation into "Ma'ariv". He was once a shareholder in Channel 10, and in the country's first freesheet, "Israeli". He also owns the Tchelet cable television station, which targets Israel's national religious community, and although he won the tender for the Moreshet (Heritage) cable station, he decided not to take the license.
Ma'ariv asks for bid for its printing house
Earlier this week, Discount Investment's board decided to inject an additional NIS 15 million into Ma'ariv, but added that the newspaper must immediately initiate a streamlining plan that includes additional layoffs, on top of the scores of employees already fired, terminating the daily print edition and continuing only with the online edition. Whatever happens, a new investor for the newspaper will result in a new wave of streamlining and cutbacks.
In a separate development, Ma'ariv Holdings today notified the TASE that it has asked for offers for A Levin Epstein Ltd., its printing house in Bat Yam. The notice states that the minimum for the bids was set at NIS 72 million, plus VAT. Market sources believe that the property could fetch as much as NIS 200 million, because the land can be rezoned for a tall building. The sale of the printing house is one measure that may help Ma'ariv secure cash flow to keep going for a while.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 6, 2012
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