Third potential buyer seeks permit to control El Al

El Al  / Photo: Yoav Yaari

The Government Companies Authority has asked for the delay of the airline's public offering, following the interest of Israeli-Russian businessman David Sapir.

A third potential buyer has contacted the secretariat of El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) and requested a permit to buy control of the financially troubled airline. Sources inform "Globes" that he is Israeli-Russian businessman David Sapir who controls telecommunications and tourism companies. Sapir joins the two other potential buyers: Eli Rozenberg, the son of New York-based businessman Kenny Rozenberg; and Israeli-UK businessman Eli Gurvitz, the controlling shareholder in real estate company Arazim Investment Ltd. (TASE: AZRM).

In light of the major interest in buying control of El Al, the Government Companies Authority has called on the Ministry of Finance to reconsider its plans for rescuing El Al, which includes a public offering of $150 million on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) by the end of August. Government Companies Authority head Yaakov Kvint has written to Ministry of Finance director general Keren Terner saying that he would not have time to complete procedures for examining the credentials of the three potential buyers by August 31.

David Sapir, the new candidate to buy control of El Al is not known in Israel and does not have businesses here. The 61 year old businessman is believed to want to create synergy with his operations in international travel. He was born David Sapiashvilli in Georgia in 1959 and 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 Giprosvyaz that was being privatized in 1993.

In 2018, Sapir received an Israeli passport and moved to Bat Yam before buying a house in Savion. He spends most of his time in Russia but frequently visits his home in Israel and describes himself as a Zionist. Sapir has a Ph.D. in economics from St. Petersburg University and collects antique clocks and artwork from the 17th to 20th centuries.

Sapir is represented in Israel by Advs. Shimshon Chen and Lior Shaby and the Fahn Kanne Grant Thornton Israel accountancy firm. Merav Lapidot advises Sapir on media strategy matters.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 18, 2020 © Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

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