Jerusalem Post Owner Wins Court Approval to Buy Maariv

The $1.15 million sale to Eli Azuri would make him the ailing daily’s fifth owner in three years.

David Bachar

The Jerusalem District Court has approved the sale of newspaper Maariv to Jerusalem Post owner Eli Azur for 4 million shekels ($1.15 million), the latest attempt to revive a daily whose circulation — and value — have plummeted.

Azur is buying the Maariv newspaper from its current owner, Shlomo Ben-Tzvi, not the website. Last week, the Jerusalem District Court approved U.S. casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s purchase of Maariv’s NRG website and Makor Rishon newspaper for 17 million shekels.

Azur, The Post’s controlling shareholder, intends to continue employing 30 Maariv workers, while 80 are likely to lose their jobs.

In addition to The Jerusalem Post, Azur owns the Hebrew-language Israel Post freebie and a handful of Russian-language papers. He also owns advertising firms, sports television stations and two radio stations — Radio Lelo Hafsaka and Radio Eco 99.

The Jerusalem Post company says it will publish Maariv as long as it can lay off its employees and hire them back as Jerusalem Post workers. The newspaper has committed to employ at least 30 workers for a year under their current conditions, though they would lose accumulated benefits. Maariv, which was founded in 1948, would also keep working with 20 freelancers.

The sale would make Azur Maariv’s fifth owner in three years, after Ofer Nimrodi, Zaki Rakib, Nochi Dankner and Ben-Tzvi. During this period, the newspaper has received protection from creditors twice — under Dankner and Ben-Tzvi.

When Dankner sought to offload the paper, Azur offered 122 million shekels for the paper and its printing house, but Ben-Tzvi won the bid that time around.