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Paz will provide businessman Yossi Hushinsky with a loan for his purchase of the Burger Ranch hamburger chain from the energy company. Haaretz has learned that the company's shares are being held in trust by attorney Reuven Behar of Behar Fischer until the loan is repaid.

Hushinsky, who purchased Burger Ranch from Paz in December, is a 10-percent partner in the Tiv Taam Group. He was a founding partner, together with Bank Leumi, in the Airport City business park that occupies over 500,000 cubic meters near Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Paz had attempted to sell the fast food chain to its CEO at the time, Yossi Lubaton, for NIS 27 million, with much of that sum coming as a loan from Paz.

Zadik Bino bought the chain eight years ago for NIS 35 million (based on current values), according to a company valuation of $8 million. Figures close to Paz say that Bino poured NIS 50 million into the chain via owners' loans.

Burger Ranch has 70 branches and an estimated annual turnover of NIS 130 million. The chain is said to have ended 2005 with losses of about NIS 6 million.

"Paz is a privately-held company, and does not disclose details about its business matters," Paz officials said in response to this report.

"I'm not responding to this despicable lie," Hushinsky said. Behar declined to comment.