Where Oh Where Has Yossi Gone?

Hey kids, help us find Yossi.

Yes, Yossi Rosen, the acting chairman of the board at Clubmarket and the best man at the signing of its acquisition by the Borovich-Mozes-Rosen group. Does anyone know where he is?

Rosen, the esteemed CEO of Israel Corp., which is controlled by the Ofer family, has received hundreds of millions of shekels in wages and bonuses over the past few years. It was he who facilitated Bank Leumi's massive extension of credit to Clubmarket without the latter providing substantial securities. Leumi, it should be remembered, holds 18 percent of the shares in Israel Corp., and is one of the largest financiers of its operations.

Rosen, who won accolades as the board chair of Clubmarket's rival Blue Square, is considered the big retailing expert by members of Clubmarket's controlling shareholders. Rosen was Clubmarket's acting board chair. He spent at least one day a week at the chain's offices and was supposed to be steering the tottering chain to a leading position in the retail food market.

All this makes his silence disappointing.

Since the collapse of the company Rosen was running, it has been difficult to find someone unscathed by the assault instigated by senior executives of the business sector, important bankers and even newspaper commentators. But Yossi? No way.

Pictures and analyses of the ruined Borovich family - Dedi Borovich, his wife Tami Mozes Borovich and his twin brother and business partner, Izzy Borovich - - have become a daily news item. The CEO of the failed chain, Yaakov Ginsburg, has also been the subject of more than a few articles. All the talk was about the Boroviches' failure. Dedi even stopped granting interviews and responding to some of the claims.

Only Rosen sits dumbstruck in his air-conditioned office at the Israel Corp. His silence is irritating and disappointing. Time and again he rebuffs the media's calls and continues hiding behind the broad back of the Israel Corp.'s public relations firm Rani Rahav, and behind Avi Guth, who has served as Clubmarket's spokesman since the crisis erupted.

Now, when the chain and its suppliers are trying to pick up the pieces from the floor and are barely able to withstand the assaults from all sides, Rosen is cloaking himself with silence and refusing to explain why the chain collapsed. Why has the chain he was running harmed a few large banks, hundreds of suppliers, thousands of workers and tens of thousands of customers? Some of the suppliers say that Rosen promised them the chain was recovering, and they believed him and continued to supply merchandise.

Outside for a while

It appears that Rosen decided to extricate himself from this embarrassing situation by distancing himself and sending messengers from afar. These messengers indicate that he has not been involved in matters for a while. His cronies now say that the board chair realized Clubmarket had no future and did everything he could to get out of it. They recall that about a year and a half ago, his son Ohad Rosen sold his shares in the company. It was not Rosen, but rather the Borovich-Rosen group, that purchased them.

"It wasn't Rosen who made all the promises, but rather [Jacob] Gelbard," says a close associate of Rosen, trying to deflect the fire toward the CEO of Pelephone, who has been mentioned as possibly being a substantial shareholder in Clubmarket.

Will all due respect to Rosen's friends, they cannot clear his name. He probably has good reason to keep mum. Maybe he is hoping the storm will soon pass, and the newspapers will go back to writing about the disengagement and will forget about the troubles left by the chain he managed. Maybe Rosen is waiting patiently for the right time to confirm the rumors that have been raging for months, that the only reason he remained in his position was pressure from the banks to stay involved in the company. Maybe he is hoping a declaration will soon be made that, as a minority shareholder, he had no control over what was happening.

Soon, however, he will probably have to take personal responsibility. Then he will have to explain. Maybe he will have to dig deep into his pocket and compensate some of the losses. Maybe he is being advised not to talk by the expensive lawyers he has hired.

The reasons for Rosen's silence, however, are really of no interest. As someone who held an active position in the company and sat on the reports, he will have to take responsibility for all those harmed by Clubmarket's collapse, and at least tell us why.