Dor-Alon Demands Paz, Delek Be Barred From Refinery Tender

Delek breaks cross-ownership rule with Tethys Sea stake; top Paz people are suspected of malfeasance, DA argues

Dor-Alon (TASE: DRAL) yesterday wrote to the Antitrust Authority and to the Government Companies Authority, demanding that they disqualify Paz and Delek (TASE: DLEKG) from trying to buy the Ashdod oil refinery, which is being sold by Oil Refineries as part of its privatization.

In fact Dor-Alon proposes to sue unless Paz and Delek are disqualified, TheMarker has learned.

In the 20-page letter, Dor-Alon, which is headed by David Wiessman, repeated its separate reasons for disqualifying each company.

Delek should be barred, according to Dor-Alon, because of its stake in Tethys Sea, which supplies natural gas. But the Gas Sector law prohibits cross-ownership of gas and fuel companies.

The Antitrust Authority has already ruled opinion on this claim, and ordered Delek to sell part of its Tethys Sea stake if it wants to buy the refinery. Delek said it would obey the law.

As for Paz, Dor-Alon has two reasons. The first is that top people at the company, including CEO Moudi Ben-Shach, were investigated in the "gas cartel" affair. Second: the company's controlling shareholder, Zadik Bino, was involved in the "Polish affair," about which an appeal on arbitration is still being heard. The Polish affair concerns allegedly hidden payments to certain Polish shareholders for their shares in Paz, by Bino and others.

Only the four large fuel companies, Paz, Delek, Sonol and Dor-Alon remain in the race for the Ashdod refinery, following the disqualification of the Bianca group, and the withdrawal of Yossi Maiman's Ampal-American Israel Corporation (Nasdaq: AMPL).

At this point, it is not clear what the final number of participants in the tender will be, and government sources have expressed concern that there may in the end only be two, and possibly only one. It is not clear whether Dor-Alon will compete for the Ashdod refinery, or whether it will concentrate on the bigger refinery in Haifa.

The Antitrust Authority has recently told the group that it will not allow it to compete in this tender, but Dor-Alon is trying to change the decision. Sonol is reconsidering its participation in the tender in the light of the impending Gaydamak-Nuriel deal.

Zadik Bino's Paz responded loftily: "One does not judge a person in his hour of distress, and Paz would like to repeat what has been said before: Whoever throws mud only assures himself of one thing - a dirty hand."

Delek said in response to this report that the group is operating in accordance with the instruction of the authorities, and that the group does not refer to letters sent by anyone.

Without referring to the content of the letter, the Government Companies Authority said that similar applications have been received in the past. The representatives of the state will discuss the matter and will announce their decision to the participants in the tender.