Businessman Zadik Bino demanded a higher price for his Burger Ranch chain from Yossi Lubaton than he had from another bidder, Yair Hasson, say sources in the fast food industry.
Three months ago Hasson met Bino and expressed an interest in taking the hamburger chain off his hands. Bino agreed to sell it to him on a valuation of NIS 20 million. Hasson then tried to get other players in the food business to join him in the deal, but apparently failed, and he decided not to go through with it.
Hasson yesterday denied he had ever expressed interest in buying Burger Ranch. Paz, another company owned by Bino, said Bino "never received a concrete offer from Yair Hasson."
The Bino-Hasson meeting took place two weeks after Bino had started discussing a deal to sell a 40 percent stake in Burger Ranch to the chain's managing director, Yossi Lubaton.
The Lubaton deal was to be set on a company valuation of NIS 27 million, with the extra NIS 7 million reflecting the fact that Lubaton had planned to finance the purchase by means of a loan from Paz.
Bino and Lubaton later fell out, and Bino withdrew from the deal. An attempt at mediation failed this week, and now the court will have to decide whether their agreement was binding, even though it was never signed.
But one reason the mediation effort collapsed was that Bino laid down an ultimatum - Lubaton must buy 100 percent of Burger Ranch for NIS 27 million in cash, or he would receive nothing. In other words, Bino wanted a cash payment, but without the NIS 7 million discount he had offered to Hasson.
It is interesting to note that the mediator was attorney Ram Caspi, whose partner, David Tadmor, represented Hasson in the initial talks with Bino.
Hasson, who owns the Playboy franchise in Israel, Play TV, has substantial, if unhappy, experience in the fast food business. After starting his career as a bodyguard for actress Pia Zadora, he was taken into partnership by Zadora's husband, businessman Meshulam Riklis, and the two men later became franchisees of Burger King in the United States.
They ran dozens of Burger King restaurants there, then expanded to the Philippines, where they opened another 75 restaurants. Finally, they decided to expand to Israel, where they set up a company called Rikamor to manage the franchise. Two years ago, however, Hasson sold his shares in Rikamor to Riklis, and a few months ago, Rikamor went into receivership.
Hasson, meanwhile, moved from hamburgers to coffee, setting up a joint venture with Delek to bring Starbucks to Israel. This time too the venture failed and all six Starbucks cafes closed - but Hasson once more managed to get out before the collapse came.
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