Bidding for Israel's Mega Supermarket Chain Deferred for Third Time After Single Bid

Bidding deferred minutes after discount supermarket mogul Rami Levy placed bid offering to buy entire chain, rather than just a portion of Mega’s retail locations.

Ofer Vaknin

The bidding for the financially ailing Mega supermarket chain, which is up for sale following a court-ordered stay of proceedings in protection from creditors, was deferred for a third time Tuesday, minutes after discount supermarket mogul Rami Levy placed a bid offering to buy the entire chain, rather than just a portion of Mega’s retail locations.

The court order deferring the bidding process came at 5:55 P.M., five minutes before the 6 P.M. deadline that had been imposed for bids for the chain, which was once the country’s second-largest, bested only by Super-Sol. The latest delay followed a request by former cabinet minister Shalom Simhon, whose most recent cabinet post was as minister of industry, trade and labor. He represents two supermarket retailers seeking to acquire Mega and divide up its 127 store locations.

The group, which includes the Victory and Yohananoff supermarket chains, received permission from the Antitrust Commission to bid for Mega, but said it needed more time because the court trustees currently running Mega oppose selling it in pieces and were not willing to give the group access to the bidding information room. The court gave the consortium of stores until 6 P.M. Wednesday to submit their bid. The trustees had deferred the bidding deadline twice over concern that they would not receive sufficient interest in purchasing Mega.

Rami Levy’s bid commits to purchase the entire chain and to maintain all 3,500 of its workforce on the job. Associates of Levy said he intends to hire 2,000 new employees as well. As last night, he was the only bidder for Mega. The assumption is that Mega would sell for about 250 million shekels (about $64 million) in addition to 150 million more for merchandise on hand.