Israeli to Buy Bankrupt Better Place Electric-car Company

Tsahi Merkur’s Success Assets to snap up the firm for NIS 11 million, trumping a U.S.-Canadian-Israeli group.

Daniel Schmil
Daniel Schmil
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Daniel Schmil
Daniel Schmil

Electric-car infrastructure company Better Place will be sold to Israeli firm Success Assets for NIS 11 million after a court Monday canceled a deal selling the bankrupt firm to a U.S.-Canadian-Israeli group.

The price accepted by the court was far lower than the NIS 18 million that Success Assets’ owner, Tsahi Merkur, originally offered in July. Under the deal, Merkur is not obligated to maintain the company's network of battery-switching facilities, meaning that some might be closed.

Over the following week, Merkur will sign a guarantee covering the acquisition price, as well as a guarantee with the Transportation Ministry releasing the cars that run on Better Place's network. Merkur must also sign a guarantee with the lien registry for Better Place’s real estate assets.

Under the deal, if the state does not permit the sale of Better Place's cars within 12 months, the purchase price will be reduced to NIS 9 million.

The sale to Success Assets comes after the Central District Court found that a previous suitor, U.S. investment company Green EV, had failed to meet its commitments. Green EV was founded by American-Israeli solar power entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz and Canadian businessman Henry Shiner; it had been poised to take over Better Place with the Association for the Promotion of the Electric Car in Israel, which represents Better Place's car owners around the country.

The two told the court Monday that they could not continue operating the company because of the Transportation Ministry’s refusal to release 350 electric cars sitting at Ashdod Port. They also said they could not receive payments from customers through Better Place's billing system.

"Nothing was coming in from car owners for months,” said Abramowitz. “We switched 10,000 car batteries without receiving money.” He said he and his partners had been misled by court-appointed managers to believe that Better Place had an organized database for billing and receiving payments from electric-car owners.

Better Place, founded by high-tech entrepreneur Shai Agassi, filed for bankruptcy in May.

Better Place founder Shai Agassi charges one of the company's electric cars.Credit: AP

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