Better Place Back on the Block After Supreme Court Rejects Buyer's Plea

Supreme Court rejects buyer's plea not to scrap the deal.

The Supreme Court last week denied a request by businessman Tzachi Merkur for a delay in carrying out an order scrapping the sale of Better Place, the bankrupt electric car operator, to the Success Group, which Merkur controls.

Better Place, which operates a network of charging stations around the country and has been selling Renault electric cars serviced by the network, was put up for sale several months ago after running into severe financial difficulties.

Following a failed bid by Green EV, which was unable to come up with the necessary financing, Merkur was awarded control of the company. Supreme Court Justice Uri Shoham ruled on Thursday that Merkur's continued possession of Better Place's assets would likely significantly affect their value, interfere with the possibility of selling them to another party and damage Better Place's relationships with its suppliers and customers.

The judge added that this conclusion was reinforced by a report submitted by Better Place's court-appointed receivers, who stated that they had received numerous e-mails claiming that Merkur and companies under his control had significant outstanding debts to employees and suppliers.

Lod District Court Judge Ilan Shiloh voided the sale of Better Place to Merkur on October 3, in response to an urgent request from the receivers who claimed that the buyer had committed a material breach of the purchase agreement by missing the first payment deadline. Merkur was supposed to have paid NIS 1.8 million out of a total purchase price of NIS 11 million by September 30 to proceed with his acquisition of the company.

At Merkur's request, the Supreme Court had issued a stay of execution of the district court order voiding the sale to Success Assets, but Justice Shoham lifted the stay on Thursday, noting that he was not convinced that the evidence supported Success Assets' position. He also ordered Merkur to pay tens of thousands of shekels in legal expenses in connection with the case.

Emile Salman