Struggling Maariv Newspaper May Be Up for Sale Again

Owner Shlomo Ben Tzvi filed for protection from creditors earlier this week.

Nati Toker
Nati Tucker
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Nati Toker
Nati Tucker

Shlomo Ben Tzvi may be looking to sell Maariv, the troubled daily paper he bought only a year and a half ago.

Ben Tzvi has been reportedly seeking out buyers or investors. Ben Tzvi, who owns the newspaper through the company Makor Rishon, sought a stay of proceedings to protect the company from creditors this week.

The court hearing for that petition is set for Sunday. Ben Tzvi may be planning to show up in court with a potential partner or buyer.

Ben Tzvi declined to respond.

To date, his family has injected 90 million shekels into the ailing newspaper.

It’s not entirely clear how Ben Tzvi intends to improve the state of affairs at Maariv, the court-appointed receiver stated in response to the owner’s request for a stay of proceedings to protect the struggling newspaper from its creditors.

“The proposed efficiency plan is unclear, as are the broad changes proposed, and it’s also unclear how they’ll reduce the operating deficit,” stated the receiver to the court.

Ben Tzvi on Wednesday filed for a stay of proceedings for the company Makor Rishon, through which he owns newspapers Makor Rishon and Maariv, seeking protection from creditors and employees, who are owed a total of 35 million shekels ($10 million). The company cannot meet its obligations, he said.

The receiver asked for immediate clarifications regarding the stay of proceedings request.

“The request lacks significant details in order to examine it and reach an informed decision,” he said.

The receiver agreed to a deal that Ben Tzvi proposed to transfer the newspaper Makor Rishon’s operations to another company he owns in exchange for 4.2 million shekels. The receiver is seeking more information about the collateral in that deal.

The receiver also wants a detailed list of the company Makor Rishon’s creditors. The request for a stay of proceedings refers to them in general, vague language, and does not state who is owed what, the receiver stated.

The recovery plan proposed by Ben Tzvi calls for cutting back the company’s workforce dramatically, which would save 1.9 million shekels a month, selling off the website NRG, and halting weekday distribution of Maariv. Distribution of Maariv’s free evening paper would continue.

Yet this plan is unclear, because newspapers need to maintain routine operations and a company needs to maintain its value, stated the receiver. Selling off the newspaper Makor Rishon and the website NRG would go against these goals, it added.

Maariv’s weekend paper is expected to reach subscribers and newsstands today as usual, but it is not clear whether the paper has enough cash to come out Sunday.

Ben Tzvi has clashed repeatedly with workers at Maariv, who accuse him of violating promises he made to employ them when he bought the company.

The Maariv building in Tel Aviv: Another loan from Discount.Credit: David Bachar

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