On Sunday, Jerusalem District Court Judge David Mintz issued a stay of proceedings for Hebrew daily "Ma'ariv". The stay of proceedings, issued at the request of "Ma'ariv" publisher Shlomo Ben-Tzvi, is for two months. The court also accepted Ben-Tzvi's request to appoint Chen Berdichev as trustee for the stay of proceedings. The court ruled that the stay of proceedings will also apply to Ben-Tzvi personally with regard to his personal guarantees. As a condition for the stay of proceedings, Techelet Ltd. will invest NIS 2 million and will pay the salaries of "Ma'ariv's" employees.
The judge rejected a motion by "Ma'ariv's" trustees, and the case will continue to be handled by the Jerusalem District Court.
In an interview with “IDF Radio" (Galei Zahal) this morning, Ben-Tzvi said, "We welcome the court's decision and, from this afternoon, we will publish the newspaper; initially an evening edition, and subsequently a morning edition. But the trend is toward an afternoon-evening newspaper and a weekend newspaper."
"IDF Radio": Will the employees' salaries be paid?
Ben-Tzvi: "We told the court that the capital injection will make it possible to immediately pay the salaries of the employees who will stay with us. As for the employees who are leaving, there will be negotiations and we will resolve the matter."
How did you end up in such a large hole?
"'Ma'ariv' has been an unhealthy newspaper for over 20 years. We reached operating break-even by the end of last year, but the deterioration resumed at the start of this year, which is why we've drawn up a new recovery plan. A newspaper must be profitable. At the moment, the hole is NIS 15 million."
How many employees will leave?
"We're working on this, and we'll submit a list to the court. There are no bad workers at 'Ma'ariv'; they are all good workers. The daily edition will be small and the weekend edition will be large and of high quality. That is the trend. We're currently talking about 100 employees who will leave, more or less."
If a buyer were to turn up now for the newspaper, would you agree to sell it?
"If such a buyer were to turn up, I'd be happy to enter into negotiations with him. Even now, there might be someone who wants the newspaper's brand, but that won't give it real content. No one will profit from that."
Can "Ma'ariv" exist at all in the Internet age?
"Quite a few newspapers in Israel and other countries have strong circulation. We want to be a newspaper with both something to buy and circulation. To give the advertiser a platform of quality and content."
Have you bitten off more than you can chew?
"A lot of things have been said, but we've seen that we can bring in and invest a lot of money and also achieve operating break-even. We'll become profitable in a year."
Your exposure rate according to TGI has fallen.
"We'll raise it. We'll create a quality afternoon newspaper, and people will then buy the weekend edition."
How will you repay all the debts?
"We've submitted a plan to the court, and we'll repay all the debts. That's what we'll do."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 10, 2014
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