David Sapir strengthens bid to buy El Al

El Al plane  / Photo: Yoav Yaari

The Israel-Russian businessman has appointed former Prime Minister's Office director general Eyal Gabay as his senior advisor.

Israeli-Russian businessman Dr. David Sapir has recruited a major Israeli figure to act as his senior advisor in his bid to buy a controlling stake in El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL). Adv. Eyal Gabay is an economist and former director general of the Prime Minister's Office and served as head of the Government Companies Authority during the privatization of El Al.

Sapir and Gabay met with Government Companies Authority head Yaakov Kvint today to present their request for a permit to buy control in the financially troubled airline. Also at the meeting in Sapir's entourage were Advs. Shimshon Chen and Lior Shaby, media strategist Merav Lapidot and representative from the Fahn Kanne Grant Thornton Israel accountancy firm.

During the meeting, Sapir presented his business credentials in the field of tourism and telecommunications and his business plan for the ailing airline. Born in Georgia in 1959 as David Sapiashvilli, he moved to St. Petersburg (then called Leningrad) in the Soviet Union in the 1980s to study at university. During perestroika he began operating in tourism and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he acquired a telecom company that was being privatized in 1993. He received Israeli citizenship in 2018 and owns a home in Savion.

Sapir is the third person interested in buying control of El Al despite its financial difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic. Eli Rozenberg, the son of New York-based businessman Kenny Rozenberg has already received a permit to buy the airline and bid $75 million for a 45% controlling stake in the airline. Israeli real estate businessman Meir Gurvitz has also applied for a permit to buy control of the airline.

Kvint announced last week that the Government Companies Authority would not be able to complete handling of the permit control requests by August 31, the deadline for El Al's $150 million offering on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) as part of the government's bailout plan.

So far Ministry of Finance director general Keren Terner has refused to delay the offering to accommodate the needs of the Government Companies Authority. Under the bailout plan, the government is committed to buying any of the shares not purchased by the public and to put up 75% state guarantees for an additional $250 million in bank loans.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 23, 2020 © Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

El Al plane  / Photo: Yoav Yaari
El Al plane / Photo: Yoav Yaari
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