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Shamir Food Industries was granted 21 days court protection from its creditors yesterday. The company, which produces and markets 80 types of salads, found itself heavily in debt - to the tune of NIS 40 million, according to five of its suppliers who filed Tuesday, together with Shamir staff, for the court to put Shamir in receivership.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Varda Alshech had granted the company until midday yesterday to respond to the receivership suits, and it did so promptly yesterday morning, requesting court protection from its creditors. Shortly thereafter, Alshech granted the 21-day protection, though she rejected the company's preferred choice of trustee - Haim Kamil of the Shlomo Nass accountancy firm.

"With no disrespect to CPA Kamil," Alshech ruled, "I cannot acquiesce to this appointment. Shlomo Nass's firm is currently busy with difficult concerted work in the Clubmarket file."

The judge noted that despite her granting the protection from creditors, it was not clear if Shamir Food was also a creditor itself of the Clubmarket chain, which collapsed last year with debts of over NIS 1 billion, leaving many suppliers high and dry. To avoid any possible conflict of interest, Alshech said, she could not appoint Nass's firm as trustee.

She therefore reached the decision to grant 21 days protection - to provide Shamir Foods an opportunity to operate and seek a buyer as a going concern - and appointed CPA Binyahu Lovell as trustee manager of Shamir Foods during this period.