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Supermarket mogul poised to become new owner of Israir Airlines

Bondholders approve NIS 162 million proposal from Rami Levy and Shalom Haim to buy majority stake in the airline

Illustrative: An Israir flight taking off from Ben Gurion International Airport, Tel Aviv. September 3, 2015. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Illustrative: An Israir flight taking off from Ben Gurion International Airport, Tel Aviv. September 3, 2015. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Supermarket tycoon Rami Levy was set to become the new owner of Israir after his proposal to buy the airline was approved Tuesday by bondholders.

Levy made the proposal through BGI Investments, which he controls along with food mogul Shalom Haim. The offer received initial backing earlier this month from the trustee overseeing the sale of Israir on behalf of bondholders for IDB Development Corp., a holding company that a judge declared insolvent in September and ordered liquidated.

Under the proposal, BGI will pay NIS 162 million ($50.4 million) for a 51 percent stake in Israir. Levy, who will inject funds into the airline, will get a 24% stake and the bondholders 25%.

At a later stage Levy’s and the bondholders’ shares will go to BGI, according to the Globes business daily.

The proposal to purchase Israir still requires court approval.

Levy is the owner of the eponymous supermarket chain and Haim is the controlling shareholder of Taaman Food Marketing.

Rami Levy in one of his Jerusalem supermarkets on June 23, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The winning offer beat out competing proposals from businessmen Yigal Dimri and Moti Ben-Moshe. An Israeli businessman based in the United Arab Emirates also offered to buy the firm.

Along with the sale of Israir, national carrier El Al Israel Airlines was recently put on the auction block. In October, the Government Companies Authority officially granted 27-year-old Israeli-American Eli Rozenberg control over El Al. Rozenberg’s newly minted Kanfei Nesharim Aviation purchased 42.88 percent of the carrier in a September 16 sale, making it the controlling shareholder as defined by Israeli regulation.

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