Dor Alon Demands Disqualification of Paz, Delek From Refinery Tender

Dor Alon yesterday sent a letter to the Antitrust Authority and to the Government Companies Authority demanding that they disqualify Paz and Delek from participating in the Ashdod oil refinery tender.

If Paz and Delek are not disqualified, Dor Alon is threatening to take legal action, TheMarker has learned.

In the 20-page letter, Dor Alon, which is headed by David Weisman, repeated claims made in the past that the two companies should be disqualified, each for a different reason. Delek should be disqualified, according to Dor Alon, because of its stake in Thetys Sea, the natural gas supplier. This does not conform, the company says, with the gas sector law, which does not allow cross-ownership of gas and fuel companies.

The Antitrust Authority has already given its opinion on this claim, and recently sent a letter to Delek in which it told the company that it has to sell part of its stake in Thetys Sea in order to conform to the law. Sources at Delek say that they will conform to all of the stipulations of the law in order to participate in the tender.

Dor Alon claims that Paz should be disqualified for two reasons. The first is that the senior executives of the company, including CEO Moudi Ben-Shach, were investigated in the gas cartel affair. The company's second claim is that the company's controlling shareholder, Zadik Bino, was involved in the "Polish affair," about which an appeal on arbitration is still being heard.

There are now only the four large fuel companies, Paz, Delek, Sonol and Dor Alon left in the race for the Ashdod oil refinery, following the disqualification of the Bianca group, and the withdrawal of Yossi Meiman's Ampal. 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.

Paz responded that "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.