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Gad Zeevi's partner in the DIY chain, Ace Buy & Build, has offered to buy the beleaguered businessman out.

Shlomo Zabeida, as head of a consortium of interested investors, has offered to buy Zeevi's shares in the chain according to a company value of $22 million, Haaretz has learned.

The offer has been submitted to First International Bank of Israel and Lipa Meir, who has been appointed as receiver for Zeevi's holdings in the DIY company.

The bank and receiver are expected to respond to Zabeida's offer by the end of the week. Any sale of shares in the company will require legal intervention, not only because of the status of Zeevi's holdings - in receivership following the businessman's inability to repay heavy bank debts - and an agreement between Zeevi and Zabeida that granted the latter first right of refusal over any sale in the shares.

As receiver, Meir also plans to hold an auction over the shares, and several parties have expressed interest in buying. These include rival chain Home Center (which was disqualified by the Antitrust Commissioner Dror Strum), Gaon Holdings, Supersol and the Markstone fund.

Sources in the sector believe an open sale would see Ace reach a high price, as the chain is well regarded. Ace ended 2004 with net profits of NIS 9 million, compared to a loss in 2003. Its revenues grew 8 percent to NIS 570 million and its operating profit soared 40 percent to NIS 13.5 million.