Farmers Latest to Nix Pri Hagalil Rescue

They may also be in desperate condition, but the farmers who supply the struggling food processing company Vita Pri Hagalil yesterday rejected a creditors' arrangement suggested by the Yodfat group, headed by former parliamentarian Avraham Burg.

The group, which is one of several offering creditors' arrangements, suggested that the 80 farmers, whom Pri Hagalil owes NIS 27 million, agree to receive 80% of their money in installments, or invest NIS 17 million and receive 50% of the company's shares.

"We have rejected and will reject any offer that doesn't assure the return of the entire debt in cash, in a reasonable time frame," said Uri Naamati, chairman of Falcha, a national agricultural workers' cooperative. "Nor do we have any interest in buying shares in Vita Pri Hagalil in exchange for debt," he added.

Meanwhile, the Hetzi Hinam retail chain is in talks with various Pri Hagalil creditors, hoping to find an arrangement they'd accept. To pass muster, any creditors' arrangement has to be accepted by all the creditors. One of the creditors said yesterday that Hetzi Hinam's offer was the best so far, and could be the basis for a final arrangement.

As yesterday was the deadline to submit arrangement proposals, the Burg group seems to be out and Hetzi Hinam to be a possibility.

Late last month Burg said he believed Pri Hagalil's problems, including NIS 150 million in bank debt, could be solved, and the company, a major employer in the town of Hatzor Haglilit and the environs, could be saved. On February 22 and 23, Pri Hagalil workers demonstrated at the plant premises and outside a courthouse, where the bank's plea to send the company to receivership and sell its assets was being heard. Like the farmers, the banks have also been balking at the various creditor arrangements proposed.