Gaydamak: No Vision, Just Ego

Arcadi Gaydamak is a man of image. He has spent two years carefully managing himself and his image, conquering hearts far and wide. He sailed from one sector to another, petting, pampering, and mainly - splashing out a fortune to buy popularity.

Everything was going swimmingly, until Gaydamak reached the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Here, his image cracked.

Suddenly, the man painted as a leading international businessman with the Midas touch and a soft heart turned out to be amateurish almost to the point of idiocy, making mistakes of a novice. Suddenly, his bombastic statements seem empty, and the deal that shocked the nation, his acquisition of Tiv Taam, has evaporated.

Where is the third retail chain he promised? Where is the war over consumer prices? What happened to the 100 new outlets for Tiv Taam that Ocif, another company for which Gaydamak seeks business, was supposed to build? What happened to the grand plan to remove the pork from customers' diets? What about Jewish tradition?

Gone. It was all ego. No vision, no plan, no thought, no management, no due diligence. No nothing. Absolutely nothing.

On the other hand, that's what's beautiful about the stock exchange: ironically, in the very place where money buys everything, it becomes obvious that not everyone with money knows how to use it wisely.

The exchange distinguishes the men from the boys, the walkers from the talkers. And what the exchange showed yesterday is that Gaydamak is no businessman.

Nevertheless, he minimized his losses when he annulled the deal yesterday. His about-face on Tiv Taam will soon be forgotten, and the betrayed customers of Amit Berger and Kobi Tribitch will continue to brandish their credit cards on Shabbat. Gaydamak got off easily.

But Tribitch (who founded Tiv Taam) and Berger (who saved him after the consumer affairs TV show Kolbotek revealed that three Tiv Taam outlets were selling rotten chicken doctored with spices, as 'spicy nuggets' or 'shwarma') fared poorly yesterday, as their professionalism was exposed in all its mediocrity.

In its initial announcement, Tiv Taam notified the Israel Securities Authority that if Gaydamak pulled out of the deal, he'd be subject to a $20 million fine. Three days ago, on Saturday morning, after rumors that the deal was faltering began to circulate, Berger and Tribitch announced "the sale of control of the Tiv Taam chain to Arcadi Gaydamak is proceeding smoothly, as are the plans to upgrade the chain, and transform it into the third-largest food chain in Israel."

Yet yesterday everything was turned upside down. Tribitch and Berger remained nearly empty-handed, Tribitch was left with a mere $2 million, and Berger managed to sell Gaydamak 10% of his company (Enter Holdings) for 30 million shekels.

They both lost, in no small part because of the blow to Tiv Taam: its employees, suppliers and customers all angry, and its managers exposed. No wonder that Tiv Taam stock dropped yesterday to levels below its pre-transaction price.