Responding to Israeli banks’ opposition to a deal that would write off 92 percent of his NIS 1.7 billion ($480 million) debt, fallen bank tycoon Eliezer Fishman told Channel 2 Monday that he has “no money left to give.”
“They can declare me bankrupt. Is anyone stopping them?” he asked. “I would not advise them to do so, but they should do what is good for them.”
Earlier Monday, the financial daily Globes reported that both Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi opposed the proposed debt settlement and write-off Fishman reached with a court-appointed administrator of his assets.
A Hapoalim statement said, “the arrangement does not express a proper effort to repay the debt to the bank.”
For it’s part, Bank Leumi said, “a review is required of the amounts that can be collected from the Fishman family as part of the bankruptcy procedures.”
The deal, on which creditors will vote on Tuesday, will allow real estate mogul Fishman — who also owns the Globes business daily and a major share in the mass circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth — to start by repaying NIS 140 million ($39 million) and to buy back stock in two of his companies in five years for NIS 260 million ($73 million), which would then be transferred to creditors, the Haaretz newspaper reported Monday.
The agreement also allows for Fishman and his wife to remain in their palatial mansion in the luxury neighborhood of Savyon in central Israel for up to two years after the agreement goes into effect.
He told Channel 2 that the home is not even his to take. “For 30 years, it has been under her name, and she agreed to give part of the house for the arrangement — if there is no arrangement, I do not have to leave the house,” he asserted.
Fishman’s portfolio owed around NIS 4.5 billion ($1.3 billion) to some 10 creditors, Haaretz reported, of which Fishman had personally guaranteed around NIS 3.4 billion ($958 million). The figure of NIS 1.7 billion refers to the value of his combined collateral.
The story has exposed the extent to which Israel’s biggest banks, Bank Leumi and Bank Hapoalim, were willing to continue lending huge sums to the business tycoon for years on the basis of his promises to repay and despite his defaulting on existing loans.
Russian-born Fishman was brought down by the global financial crisis in 2008 and by Russia’s recession, which decimated his businesses and investments.