Don't Sell Vita to Cannibals, Says Burg

Four potential bidders are vying buy Vita Pri Galil, said Avraham Burg, former politician and today a partner in the troubled company, owned together with Ian Davis and Aviv Algor.

The bidders are of two types, Burg said, "cannibals who try to bite off pieces here and there", by which he meant, among other things, that they'd sell off the fruit processing company's property, and investors who want to keep Vita alive.

"I believe that all the cannibals will fall because it's unthinkable to let the company, which keeps the 'Finger of the Galilee' [the area along the Hula Valley] in work, fail at this time," he said.

Vita is located at Hatzor Haglilit and employs 500. Yakov Cheskele, the owner of Pri-Nir, has offered to run Vita on behalf of the creditors and has the right of first refusal to buy it.

One bidder is Kibbutz Yodfat, teamed up with Vita's present owners and the owners of Willi-Food. Yodfat's offer includes a cash infusion from farmers in exchange for a controlling interest in the company, and an equity offering to creditor banks as well.

Asked why the present owners would have any interest in staying at Vita if they lose control, Burg said their motives were patriotic, not commercial. He also said the ones who reduced Vita to its current straits were its previous owners.

The company is NIS 260 million in debt, of which NIS 160 million is owed to the banks.