Dankner sells "Ma'ariv" to "Makor Rishon" publisher

The NIS 85 million sale covers the newspaper only, without its debts or printing house.

IDB Holding Corp. Ltd. (TASE:IDBH), controlled by chairman Nochi Danknber, has sold Hebrew daily "Ma'ariv" to "Makor Rishon" publisher Shlomo Ben-Tzvi for NIS 85 million. "Globes" first reported the talks between the parties on Thursday. The sale is only for the newspaper, without its debts or printing house.

"The buyer intends to continue operating the newspaper after the transaction is closed," said Ma'ariv Holdings Ltd. (TASE: MARV-M) in a notice to the TASE, adding, "'Makor Rishon' will offer to hire 300-400 'Ma'ariv' employees as employees of the buyer."

Ma'ariv currently has about 2,000 employees.

The deal is due to be completed by October.

Ben-Tzvi is a businessman with a clear media orientation. He currently owns the newspaper "Makor Rishon", and he wants to extend its right wing-nationalist orientation to "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 nationalist religious community, but although he won the tender for the Moreshet (Heritage) cable station, he decided not to take the license.

In early 2011, Dankner acquired control of Ma'ariv Holdings through IDB unit Discount Investment Corporation (TASE: DISI) for NIS 147 million. He subsequently invested an additional NIS 200 million in the newspaper and guaranteed a NIS 24 million loan from Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI). Because of "Ma'ariv's" dire condition, earlier this month, Discount Investment's board decided to inject an additional NIS 15 million into the newspaper. Althogether, Dankner has invested over NIS 360 million in "Ma'ariv".

Last week, Discount Investment shareholders filed a lawsuit in the Tel Aviv District Court Economics Division against the company, its chairman, Dankner, directors, and officeholders on the grounds that the investment in Ma'ariv Holdings caused Discount Investment financial harm.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 9, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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