The special administrator of the assets of business tycoon Eliezer Fishman, whose empire collapsed under a mountain of debt, announced Sunday that the successful bid on a Tel Aviv apartment owned by Fishman is 7.13 million shekels ($2 million). And the successful bidder is none other than Fishman’s daughter Anat Menipaz.
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Once one of Israel’s most powerful tycoons, Fishman’s Jerusalem Economy Corporation fell victim to the collapse of its Russian real estate portfolio. Fishman himself has been facing debts of 4.5 billion shekels ($1.2 billion) run up by his privately controlled companies.
His two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment on Hissin Street is in the center of the city, near Habima Square. It was measured at 145 square meters (1,560 square feet) and the deed to the property includes a parking space.
In March, Fishman agreed that it would be sold to help satisfy his debt. An invitation for bids was published in the press, stating that bidders would be required to submit a bank guarantee for 10% of the price they were offering.
The special administrator, Joseph Benkel, submitted an appraisal to the court putting the market price for the apartment at 6.15 million shekels, adding that on a quick sale it would be worth 5.2 million shekels. Benkel submitted 10 bids he had received, six of which came from bidders who decided not to proceed. At that point Menipaz was one of the four remaining bidders. At a later stage, only one other bidder remained and after Menipaz increased her offer to 7.13 million, she was confirmed as the successful bidder for the property.
Benkel noted that the bid was a million shekels higher than its appraised value under regular market conditions, and two million higher than its appraisal on a quick sale.
Judge approves sale
District Court Judge Eitan Orenstein approved the sale to Fishman’s daughter, noting that the bid exceeds the apartment’s appraised value, that it was received in a bidding process and that Benkel supported the sale to Menipaz.
The decision raises the question of how unusual such an outcome might be. In many bankruptcy cases, relatives of the debtor buy homes or other assets that have sentimental value for the family. In Fishman’s case, however, Benkel initially cast doubt on the source of funds that Fishman’s three children hold, saying the family had prepared in advance for “a rainy day,” and that companies owned by the children actually served as a conduit for siphoning off money from Eliezer Fishman’s corporate empire.
In allowing the funds now to be used to enable Fishman’s daughter to buy back the Tel Aviv apartment, Benkel has taken the position, however, that his aim is to maximize the proceeds that will be provided to Fishman’s creditors.