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Tel Aviv District Court Judge Varda Alshech yesterday told the contenders for bankrupt Burger King Israel that she planned to send their bids to Antitrust Commissioner Dror Strum before naming the winning bidder - Orgad or fast food rival Burger Ranch.

Strum will examine if the higher Burger Ranch bid is not in violation of the principles of competition.

Alshech extended Burger King's protection from creditors until September 4, and instructed the trustee for Israel's Burger King franchisee, Rikmor, to send each company's merger requests to Strum by Sunday.

Alshech ruled that until September, a status quo will protect Burger King branches from being taken over by rivals McDonald's - which abstained from the bidding process - and Burger Ranch.

Rikmor trustee Doron Tischmann commented on the global Burger King's attempt to disqualify the Burger Ranch bid. He said nothing should be ruled out at this stage, until Strum makes a decision.

Burger Ranch's representative said there were two offers on the table - its own NIS 30 million bid and Orgad's NIS 20.5 million bid plus future royalties. He said the court was obliged to select the higher bid.

Alshech said she was not evading a decision, but that there was no point in her examining the validity of Burger King's claims regarding the legality of Burger Ranch's behavior if Strum eventually disqualified the bid altogether.

Four companies submitted final bids for the local activities of Burger King, which under court protection had already taken steps to cut costs.