JERUSALEM Jan 5 A Tel Aviv court on Sunday
upheld an earlier decision approving the transfer of control in
debt-ridden conglomerate IDB Holding Corp to
Argentinian businessman Eduardo Elsztain and his Israeli partner
Judge Eitan Orenstein, though, delayed the transaction to
allow IDB's chairman and current controlling shareholder Nochi
Dankner time to appeal. Dankner has 15 days to file an appeal.
A month ago, the group won support from 75 percent of the
votes of bondholders and bank creditors to take over. Orenstein
approved the vote but ordered an investigation into the
relatively unknown Ben-Moshe's sources of financing.
"There is no evidence that would pull the ground out from
under the approval given to the creditors' arrangement, which
received the support of the required majority of creditors,"
Orenstein said. "Therefore, it is determined that the conditions
for the court ruling to take effect have been met."
The decision likely puts an end to a high-profile battle
over who will head IDB, which through its pyramidal structure
controls some of Israel's largest companies.
Trade in IDB's stocks and bonds were halted just before the
court's decision at 1100 GMT. Prior to that, IDB Holding's
shares were up 25 percent.
IDB expanded rapidly over the past decade under Dankner,
whose rival proposal was rejected by creditors, but has been hit
by slowing economic growth and increased competition.
IDB Holding owes bondholders 2 billion shekels ($570
million) and its subsidiary IDB Development owes a
further 5.8 billion.
IDB, which controls Cellcom, Israel's biggest
mobile phone operator, and leading supermarket chain Super-Sol
, has been selling off stakes in assets like Given
Imaging, MA Industries and Credit Suisse, to
Elsztain is chairman and chief executive of IRSA,
Argentina's biggest real estate company. He also serves as
chairman of Cresud , a major agriculture
producer. He initially supported Dankner during the debt
restructuring, but in July backed out of the partnership.
Elsztain and Ben-Moshe's proposal included a cash injection
of 650 million shekels into IDB Development and a 300 million
shekel payment, along with the allocation of 46.7 percent of IDB
Development, to creditors.
($1 = 3.5071 Israeli shekels)
(Reporting by Steven Scheer and by Tova Cohen)