Bank Leumi Wrote Off Debt for Yitzhak Tshuva Too

The deal isn't far from the one for Nochi Dankner that the bank scrapped last week after the public cried foul.

Michael Rochvarger
Michael Rochvarger
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Michael Rochvarger
Michael Rochvarger

Far from the public eye late last year, Yitzhak Tshuva, the owner of the Delek Group of companies, renegotiated NIS 270 million in debt owed to Bank Leumi - and got 48% written off, sources have told TheMarker.

The deal was struck in September and October and called for subsidiary Delek Real Estate to pay NIS 140 million within six months, while NIS 130 million was written off. (In the process, Delek Real Estate was delisted and became privately held by Tshuva.)

Leumi and Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot had weaker collateral than did the company's other creditors. In Leumi's case, the loan was secured by collateral from shares in subsidiaries that own the troubled Hof Hacarmel real estate project in Haifa, which has been widely denigrated as an architectural horror.

The debt negotiation was similar to a deal that Tshuva struck about six months ago with Delek Real Estate bondholders, who recovered only about 30% of the NIS 2.1 billion they were owed. Tshuva chipped in several hundred million shekels of his own money, some of which was paid immediately.

The agreement also bears similarities to the proposed deal between Leumi and Ganden Holdings, a company privately held by IDB group's controlling shareholder, Nochi Dankner. Last week, the furor over the hefty write-off led Leumi to scrap the deal.

But there are differences. Unlike Ganden, Delek Real Estate was a publicly-traded company at the time of the Tshuva deal. And unlike Dankner, who had hoped to shore up his troubled business empire through an investment by another party - the Argentine businessman Eduardo Elsztain, Tshuva wrote a NIS 140 million check to Leumi from his own resources.

The payment was initially to come from proceeds from the sale of the Hof Hacarmel project, but since parts of that sale had not been clinched at the time, Tshuva scraped up the money from companies he owns rather than risk having Leumi declare the loan in default.

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