Segev Buys Ocif From Gaydamak

Arcadi Gaydamak's lawyer, Yossi Segev, offered yesterday to purchase Gaydamak's holdings in the publicly traded company Ocif for NIS 110.5 million. This amount will be transferred to Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot within five business days.

Gaydamak lost about NIS 490 million on his investment in real estate firm Ocif, for which he paid NIS 600 million to the Aviv family in April 2007. At the time, this gave Ocif a company value of about NIS 1 billion.

Segev will also pay Ocif $23 million that Gaydamak owes after a Russian land deal involving Gaydamak was canceled because he was a party of interest and the deal did not receive the proper approvals.

The sale of Gaydamak's shares to Segev was approved yesterday by Tel Aviv District Court Judge Danya Kareth Meyer, just after another judge, Avi Zamir, ordered a NIS 10 million lien on Gaydamak's Ocif shares in favor of Uri Shani, Gaydamak's former business manager who is suing him.

Segev's office said it did not know of the lien at the time it presented the deal to the court. Shani's attorney, Ron Berkman, said he would ask the court to place a lien on other assets of Gaydamak's because the sale of Ocif shares had already been approved. Berkman said he has not yet decided whether to challenge the Ocif sale - it all depends on what other assets Shani can receive to guarantee his claims against Gaydamak.

Segev, who had been a large investor in the real estate business until 2000 when his wife died, said he is now considering returning to the sector. He said he was investing in Ocif for the long term and it was not a speculative investment at all.

However, this was not the end of Gaydamak's troubles with attempts to attach his property - as Judge Zamir also granted a NIS 78 million lien against his assets in favor of businessmen Levi Kushnir and Balram Chainrai of Hong Kong, who sold Ameris Holdings to Gaydamak.

Zamir approved a third lien later yesterday afternoon. He ruled in favor of a NIS 17 million attachment, requested a week ago, by Zvi and Ravit Williger, who claimed they had transferred a NIS 16.2 million loan for Gaydamak to Ameris' account at Mizrahi-Tefahot in September.

Segev made the announcement of his purchase in a court hearing yesterday on Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot's request to appoint a receiver for Gaydamak's Ocif shares, which had been pledged as a guarantee for the loan Gaydamak took from the bank to finance his original purchase of Ocif.

Segev told the court that the highest bid he received in his attempt to sell the shares was NIS 140 million, but it included conditions that did not guarantee payment. It is thought that this offer came from Doron Aviv, a member of the family that originally sold Ocif to Gaydamak.

Segev said that if the shares were not sold and a receiver was appointed instead for Gaydamak's public holdings, it would start an avalanche that would wipe out the value of the shares and the entire company.

Ocif has a number of residential construction projects around the country, and the company's collapse would affect many buyers, "on the level of half of the Heftsiba affair," said a source involved in the deal. Segev told the court that Gaydamak had asked him to buy the shares.

Segev made the deal conditional on receiving the shares without any encumberances, debts or commitments to third parties.

Attorney Pinkhas Yaniv, representing Mizrahi-Tefahot, said the bank did not object to the sale - as long as it receives its money. Yaniv says Gaydamak owes the bank NIS 158 million.

Judge Kareth Mayer said: "The price the shares were purchased for is close to their price on the stock market. We can reasonably assume that any sale by a receiver would have brought a lower return."

"The size of the debt to the bank is significantly more than the amount to be received in practice," the judge added. She said that there would therefore be no funds left to divide among Gaydamak's other creditors.

At the same time, Judge Zamir ruled that Gaydamak's commitment to Uri Shani to transfer NIS 50 million worth of shares to a trust in the name of his business manager was clear and not limited in any way. He therefore ordered the NIS 10 million lien in Shani's favor.

Zamir's other ruling for the NIS 78 million lien for Kushnir and Chainrai dealt with the NIS 80 million they claimed Gaydamak owed them for the last 25% of Ameris he was supposed to pay for in July, but never did. Zamir allowed the lien to be placed on any of Gaydamak's assets in public companies, including Ocif, as well as on his Caesarea home, Jerusalem real estate including the Beitar Jerusalem practice field, his private bank accounts and other holdings.

Kushnir and Chainrai's lawyers are still considering what steps, if any, to take over the Ocif sale - which came after the decision on the lien.

On Wednesday, Bank Hapoalim refused to accept a $7 million transfer from Gaydamak's account at Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot to his account at Hapoalim. The money would then have been transferred to the account held by Ocif.

Segev, who has signatory rights to Gaydamak's Hapoalim account, claimed in a letter to Ocif that Gaydamak sought to transfer the money to the firm, but Hapoalim demanded that the money be transferred to Ocif directly and returned it to Gaydamak's account at Mizrahi-Tefahot.

Yuval Maoz contributed to this report.