Better Place Buyers May Not Be Stable Enough, Government Says

The bankrupt company’s court-appointed managers say the state has gone back on its word.

Yasmin Gueta
Jasmin Gueta
Yasmin Gueta
Jasmin Gueta

The Transportation Ministry believes that the partners buying bankrupt electric car company Better Place may not be stable enough to see the transaction through, the ministry told the Lod District Court court late last week.

"Even at this stage, serious concerns have arisen regarding the stability of the buyer and the seriousness of its intents," the ministry said Thursday in response to a report by the company's court-appointed managers.

The report alleges that the ministry is not granting the buyer an import license to free 350 electric vehicles waiting at the Ashdod Port and in Turkey.

Better Place declared bankruptcy after burning through more than $800 million.

American-Israeli solar power entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz, Canadian businessman Henry Shiner and the nonprofit Association for the Promotion of the Electric Car in Israel won a bid to buy it for NIS 18 million, plus NIS 25 million for its intellectual property. They are going by the name Green EV.

Better Place's court-appointed managers, attorney Shaul Kotler and accountant Sigal Rozen-Rechav, argued that the ministry had gone back on its word and had made more demands of the buyers before agreeing to provide an import license.

The buyers thought they had met the requirements, Kotler and Rozen-Rechav added, asking the court to hold an urgent discussion on the matter.

The ministry countered that it had done everything it could to help Kotler, Rozen-Rechav and the buyers speed up the process of receiving the import license while protecting the interests of Better Place's customers.

Kotler and Rozen-Rechav said the ministry had backtracked and that its actions did not jibe with positions it had taken in court.

During an urgent hearing held Thursday, Green EV agreed to register the company in the name of Israeli shareholders. Currently, the company is being held in trust by attorney David Fohrer.

The Transportation Ministry is demanding that the buyers put up NIS 7 million in cash; the court has not yet ruled on this.

Last Tuesday, Green EV put a NIS 2 million down payment into an escrow account, in keeping with a court-granted extension.

Green EV raised the funds for the down payment from American businessman Jonathan Javitt, who is now part of the company.

An electric car at the headquarters of Better Place in Tel Aviv in October 2012. Credit: Reuters

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