After investing almost NIS 1 billion in real estate company Arena Group (TASE: ARNA), controlling shareholder Marcus Weber is delisting the company from the TASE for only NIS 8.5 million, after the company lost almost its entire value. Arena Group today published an offer to purchase for the company at NIS 0.03 per share, 20% higher than its share price today. The share price thereupon rose to the level of the offer on quite a small turnover.
Weber published his offer to purchase for the 22% of Arena Group's shares held by the public through his private company ASTC, through which he holds his current 62% controlling interest in Arena Group. The deadline for accepting the offer is the beginning of April. Other than Weber and the public, the other shareholder in Arena Group is Avraham Nanikashvili, with a 16.5% holding. His name appears together with Weber on the offer to purchase, but Arena Group says that Nanikashvili's inclusion is "formal; he will purchase no shares in the offer to purchase."
Together with his partners, Jacky Ben-Zaken and Haim Revivo, Nanikashvili was the controlling shareholder in Arena Group (under its previous name, Manofim Finance) when they brought in Weber to make his first investment in 2008: a $25 million line of credit.
A year later, at the height of the global credit crisis, which affected Manofim, the loan became an exceptional capital investment of $100 million in the company's shares. This huge investment, together with the same amount loaned to the company, increased Weber's total investment in Arena to nearly NIS 1 billion.
A series of noisy failures in overseas real estate and oil exploration in Israel, however (an oil drilling by the Shemen company off the Ashdod coast), cost the company accumulated losses in the hundreds of millions of shekels, resulting in a plunge in its value. Today's increase in Arena's share price brought its market cap to only NIS 40 million, compared with NIS 1 billion in 2011.
Two and a half years ago, in October 2016, Weber offered to buy Arena's two main properties, the Star Center in Ashdod and the Arena Mall in Nahariya, for NIS 790 million, minus NIS 320 million in bank loans secured by properties, leaving the company as a stock exchange shell with cash. The offer, however, did not go through.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 17, 2019
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