Clubmarket Creditors Expect to Vote Down Plan Today

The creditors of the now-defunct Clubmarket supermarket chain will be voting today on a debt repayment arrangement.

The creditors of the now-defunct Clubmarket supermarket chain will be voting today on a debt repayment arrangement proposed by the company's trustees, Shlomo Nass and Gabi Trabelsi. Industry sources believe that the plan will be rejected.

Clubmarket's debts at the time of its collapse were estimated at NIS 1.4 billion-1.6 billion.

Under the proposal, the creditor banks would receive about 80 percent on the shekel, while suppliers, who make up most of the chain's creditors, would receive 51-68 percent of what they are owed. Smaller suppliers (those owed up to NIS 100,000) would receive the higher proportion, according to a sliding scale. The major suppliers (those owed more than NIS 5 million) would receive 51 percent.

The suppliers had expected to recoup 70-80 percent of their losses. They want the banks to accept more of the burden. The banks, which have already agreed to forgo NIS 19 million of the supermarket chain's loan repayments due them, are unwilling to make further concessions.

According to the industry sources, there are no negotiations being held at present between the suppliers and the banks. They believe the trustees will choose one of two options today: either canceling the vote, or holding the vote while being aware that a significant number of suppliers will approve it with reservations. In that case, the observers say, the trustees would be able to tell the banks and other creditors that the chain will be liquidated if they do not yield.

Attorney Nitza Posner, who represents the suppliers who belong to the Manufacturers' Association - including major suppliers such as Osem, Strauss-Elite and Coca-Cola - submitted a detailed document to the trustees spelling out the association's position.

According to the document, while the unsecured creditors - the suppliers - account for the majority of Clubmarket's total debts, they would be forced to bear the brunt of the burden under the trustee proposal, while the banks get a higher repayment.

The suppliers are demanding that the repayment terms for those who are owed the most money (more than NIS 5 million) be raised to at least 55 percent. Under the current proposal, they would receive only 51 percent. If the suppliers get their way, the banks would accept a lower repayment percentage on their monies owed.

The suppliers want to postpone the vote on the trustee proposal until a settlement is reached with the Tax Authority. If the taxes owed by Clubmarket have to be paid before the suppliers receive their share, it would significantly decrease the funds available to the suppliers.

The suppliers say that under the trustee proposal, they will be the ones to pay for the agreement that was reached with Clubmarket employees. The suppliers argue that they, and Supersol, which has purchased Clubmarket, should take more of the burden.

"It is appropriate that in order to enjoy continuity in their source of employment, they would not receive increased compensation payments," the suppliers' document stated.

The suppliers say it is strange that Bank Leumi is receiving NIS 35 million in exchange for Clubmarket shares, even though the shares are now worthless because of the company's collapse. They say this money should be included in the total amount received by the bank in return for the chain's debts.

The suppliers also want to retain the right to take legal action against Clubmarket's board of directors, officeholders and shareholders.