Eli Rozenberg, a 30-year old recent immigrant to Israel and son of US nursing home chain owner Kenny Naftali Rozenberg, is bidding to acquire El Al, Israel’s flagship airline, according to Hebrew press reports.
Eli Rozenberg is a resident of Israel and thus meets the precondition necessary to buy the troubled airline, Globes financial website reported. Rozenberg is in talks with Knafaim Holdings Ltd., the airline’s current controlling shareholder, via an intermediary, and is seeking to acquire the firm as is, without any preconditions, the report said.
Kenny Rozenberg is the CEO of Centers Health Care, a nursing home chain in the US he founded in 1996. The firm has nursing home facilities and short-term rehab centers, and provides assisted living and other services, according to its website.
Globes said that Knafaim so far has rejected the bid to sell its stake to Rozenberg.
Last week the carrier, battered by the coronavirus pandemic that has grounded flights globally, accepted a government bailout package that could lead to the nationalization of the airline, giving the state a 61% stake in the firm.
Under the bailout package, the airline will get a $250 million government-backed loan, with guarantees for 75% of the loan, in case the firm defaults. It also includes a stock offering on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange to raise $150 million to help prop up the equity of the firm, which has more than $2 billion of net debt.
The deal stipulates efficiency steps that may lead to the firing of 2,000 workers.
The share offering comes with a caveat that the state must buy any unsold shares, meaning that the state could once again end up as the majority stakeholder in the airline should investors or one strategic investor not materialize.
The airline was privatized in 2004 and is currently controlled by Knafaim Holdings Ltd, which will see its shares diluted.
The company has entered deep financial trouble due to the pandemic, and last month shut down all air operations amid an ongoing labor dispute.
A spokesman for El Al declined to comment.