Restructuring and insolvency in Israel

Amit, Pollak, Matalon & Co. Advocates and Notary

'Vastly experienced and totally committed to a favourable outcome', Amit, Pollak, Matalon & Co. Advocates and Notary handles a significant amount of court-appointed mandates and acts for a litany of secured and unsecured creditors. In a standout matter, department head Erez Haver was appointed special administrator of Rubicon Group and the Kela Fund for Encouraging Entrepreneurship in connection with Rubicon's insolvency; additionally, this mandate involves dozens of simultaneous proceedings against various officeholders in the group of companies, including criminal securities claims. Further, Haver represented creditor the Clal Group in debt settlement proceedings against Mega Retail. Similarly, the team advises secured creditors, including Israel Discount Bank, Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Mercantile Discount Bank, and Union Bank of Israel on a significant number of liquidation and receivership mandates. Haver is also assisting Neumann Brothers with the possible distressed purchase of Eurocom Group. Moran Mordechay is another key contact.

Fischer Behar Chen Well Orion & Co

Fischer Behar Chen Well Orion & Co has advised creditors, distressed corporates and insolvency administrators in some of Israel's largest insolvencies and debt arrangements. Department head Amit Pines acted for The Department of the Official Receiver in proceedings related to several liquidations, including those of Trade Bank, Ace Group, and Auto Depot. On the creditor side, Pines and Lihi Blumenfeld are advising Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot on insolvency proceedings against several entities and individuals, including the Fishman Group. The team also assists the bank with asset realisations in insolvency proceedings involving diamond dealers. Additionally, Pines and Blumenfeld regularly act as trustees or liquidators of corporates in a wide range of industries. Similarly, the team has experience in special administration proceedings; Pines was appointed as special administrator of the Almasera Association in relation to a liquidation request filed against it on the grounds of illegal activity. The group also represents individual debtors in high-value personal bankruptcies.

Gornitzky & Co.

The lawyers at Gornitzky & Co. are regularly appointed as officials in some of Israel's most significant insolvency cases. Of particular note, Pinhas Rubin was recently appointed as one of three special administrators for Eurocom Communications, which has amounted debts of over NIS1bn. Moreover, prior to Eurocom's court mandated liquidation, a team including Yaron Elhawi and Eli Elya represented Bank Hapoalim in negotiations with Eurocom and its other creditors in an attempt to restructure the company's debts. The department also advises Bank Hapoalim on various proceedings arising out of the bankruptcy of Eliezer Fishman. Additionally, Rubin and Elhawi are representing the liquidators of Agrexco Agricultural Export in a claim against the State of Israel alleging that the actions of the State caused the company's debt and subsequent collapse. The team has also been engaged by clients such as First International Bank of Israel to advise on issues associated with the newly passed Law of Insolvency and Economic Rehabilitation, which will be implemented in 2019.

Lipa Meir & Co

Lipa Meir & Co is 'one of the most professional law offices in Tel Aviv', according to one source. The firm has extensive experience acting for debtors and secured and unsecured creditors. The team's 'deep familiarity with bankruptcies and creditors' arrangements' imbues clients with 'a feeling of security'. On the debtor side, name partner Lipa Meir is acting for an Israeli businessman in connection with one of the country's most widely publicised personal bankruptcies, while on the creditor side, Meir is acting for hundreds of investors associated with the Kela Fund in relation to proceedings arising out of a special situation insolvency of the fund and its parent company, Rubicon Group. Senior partner Zuriel Lavie is engaged by some of Israel's most significant insolvent corporates, including Mega Retail Group and Zim Integrated Shipping Services. Of particular note, Lavie is advising Eurocom Group on a number of proceedings arising out of an application for liquidation against Eurocom Communications. Also recommended is Shirly Ifrach-Azor, who acted for Carmel Academic Center as appointed trustee and, later, as liquidator in relation to a stay of proceedings and subsequent liquidation proceedings. The team also advises secured creditors, including The Bereshit Fund and Bank Hapoalim.

Weksler, Bregman & Co., Advocates

Weksler, Bregman & Co., Advocates acts for secured and unsecured creditors and distressed companies, and is particularly sought after for insolvencies involving banks and financial institutions. Uri Bregman is engaged by The Office of the Official Receiver in connection with the liquidations of Bank of North America and Israel Trade Bank; in both instances, Bregman was appointed as special administrator of the insolvent banks. Ofer Yankovich and Eran Shuster have advised AFI Group throughout the entirety of its restructuring process, which is the largest debt arrangement in Israel's history; recently the team assisted the client with its second debt settlement. Another key figure in the team is Doron Dan, who acted for the bondholders and the trustee of Gmul Investment Company in relation to a court-affirmed creditor arrangement. Other significant clients include Negev Ceramics and HSBC, the latter of which the team has represented in proceedings associated with insolvencies within the Eurocom Group.

Erdinast, Ben Nathan, Toledano & Co.

Erdinast, Ben Nathan, Toledano & Co. has 'really extensive knowledge of Israeli insolvency proceedings'. The group is 'especially experienced in dealing with issues affecting bondholders' but also has experience acting for the purchasers of distressed corporates. Raanan Kalir and Alon Binyamini advised Extra Development and Entrepreneurship on the acquisition of Africa Israel Investments, and advised Blue Square Israel on acquisition of control in Africa Israel Properties; both acquisitions were part of creditor arrangements between Africa Israel Investments and its bondholders. Further, Kalir was appointed by the District Court of Tel Aviv as the liquidator of BSR Europe, which has several subsidiaries throughout Europe. Additionally, Kalir was engaged by the creditors of Malrag in relation to the company's insolvency proceedings; this case led to a precedential ruling wherein the company's directors were ordered to compensate the creditors for dividends that were found to be unlawfully distributed.

Friedman, Yunger & Co. Advocates

Friedman, Yunger & Co. Advocates specialises in litigation and insolvency, and has experience acting for distressed corporates in insolvency cases with notable cross-border aspects. The firm is jointly led by Itzhak Yunger and Dan Friedman. Yunger regularly acts for insolvent companies as a court-appointed official, and Friedman has been engaged by secured creditors such as Clal Insurance in relation to significant insolvency proceedings.

Gissin & Co., Advocates

Gissin & Co., Advocates has been recognised by clients for its 'uncompromising professionalism' and 'strategic acuity'. The team is particularly well known for acting for bondholders in relation to some of the market's most significant debt settlements. In this regard, Guy Gissin acted for Hermetic Trust, as bond trustee, in successful negotiations for Africa Israel Investments' most recent debt settlement, which was valued at NIS3bn. Similarly, Gissin is advising Hermetic Trust on the company reorganisation of IDB Development and on the sale of one of the company's prime assets. In addition to bondholder work, Gissin was appointed as joint liquidator of Habas Group - a public company with assets in Israel and abroad - which raised debts of approximately NIS500m. Yael Hershkovitz is also recommended; Hershkovitz works alongside Gissin in debt negotiations and serves as Gissin's legal counsel in his role as foreign representative of Urbancorp.

Gross, Kleinhendler, Hodak, Halevy, Greenberg, Shenhav & Co.

The team at Gross, Kleinhendler, Hodak, Halevy, Greenberg, Shenhav & Co. handles major debt restructuring mandates and stands out for what clients describe as 'service at the very peak of professionalism'. Jointly led by litigator David Fohrer and Aya Yoffe, who heads the capital markets group, the multidisciplinary practice group advised Alon Israel Oil Company on its restructuring of institutional bonds and bank debts, and served as lead counsel in the debt restructuring of Plaza Centers, a Dutch company listed in London, Warsaw and Tel Aviv. The team is also acting for Mekorot in relation to a restructuring process in which it will sell a majority stake of its desalination plant in Ashdod. Further, Fohrer acted for CHS, the largest creditor of several crop trading companies, in relation to an insolvency process, which culminated in a court-approved creditor arrangement.

Herzog Fox & Neeman

Herzog Fox & Neeman provides 'consistently reliable advice' and demonstrates 'keen instincts' in the resolution of complex and cross-border restructuring and insolvency mandates. The department was strengthened considerably by the addition of Seffy Zinger, who joined the firm from the Ministry of Justice. In fact, Zinger played a major role in the drafting Israel's new Law of Insolvency and Economic Rehabilitation and negotiated its terms in the Knesset committees. The firm is noted for its global recognition and is regularly sought out by foreign corporates and financial institutions. Department head Yaniv Dinovitch is acting for an international bank in connection with the personal bankruptcy proceedings of a prominent Israeli businessman. In the domestic market, the team is advising secured lenders Bank of Jerusalem and Ayalon Insurance on the insolvency proceedings of Ortam-Malibu Holdings. Additionally, the department is often engaged by major multinational corporates, such as L'Oreal and Alitalia Societa Aerea Italiana, in relation to liquidation proceedings involving their Israeli branches and subsidiaries.

Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal Law Offices

Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal Law Offices' restructuring and insolvency department is best known for advising creditors in the midst of major insolvency proceedings. Practice head Adv Pinni Yaniv acted for First International Bank of Israel in relation to the creditors' arrangement with Negev Ceramics regarding its high-value debts. Similarly, Yaniv serves as court-appointed receiver on behalf of Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot for four projects being constructed by companies in the Heftziba Construction Group. The department head is often appointed by the court to manage complex debt arrangements and insolvency procedures. In this capacity, Yaniv is acting as trustee for Gmul Investments and Honigman & Sons. Also of note, Eyal Rosovsky is helping to represent Bank Leumi in claims filed by the liquidators of TAO TSUOT alleging liability for the collapse of the company. The team also has expertise in M&A involving distressed companies. In a standout matter, Adv Amir Dolev advised Elco in its acquisition of Globus Max out of insolvency.

Shibolet & Co. with Raved, Magriso, Benkel & Co.

Shibolet & Co. with Raved, Magriso, Benkel & Co. has become a notable name in insolvency law as a result of its merger in 2018. In particular, Joseph Benkel has an active insolvency practice, serving in court-appointed roles in relation to major Israeli bankruptcies. Benkel is currently acting as trustee for the assets of Eliezer Fishman, who is the subject of one of the country's most high-profile personal bankruptcies. In this context, Benkel acts as liquidators of numerous companies in the Fishman Group and is responsible for the analysis of Fishman's debts of over NIS4bn. Benkel also acts as trustee for the companies that hold and operate the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv. Another key contact is Alon Kazayoff, who was appointed as a trustee in a stay of proceedings involving Alitalia Airlines Israel. The team also advises secured creditors such as Bank Hapoalim on debt arrangements, which recently included a NIS318m settlement agreement between the bank and Israel Petrochemicals Enterprises.

Shimonov & Co. - Law Firm

Shimonov & Co. - Law Firm impresses with its involvement in many of the market's largest bankruptcies. The department is led by Amir Bartov, who has been acting as trustee for Mega Retail in relation to its creditor negotiations; the company was recently sold to Bitan Wines. Bartov acted as trustee for Nidar Construction and Development in proceedings associated with its NIS500m debt. Also in the construction space, the team acts for Ortam-Malibu Group in ongoing creditor negotiations, and Bartov represented the company in a case before the Supreme Court involving bank securities. Further, the team advises the Saidoff Group on proposed distressed purchases, including its recent attempt to purchase Africa Israel Investment through a creditors' settlement.

Yigal Arnon & Co

The team at Yigal Arnon & Co has experience across the spectrum of restructuring and insolvency-related matters, from debt arrangements and pre-bankruptcy proceedings to liquidation. The department is jointly headed by Amnon Lorch and Gil Oren. On the creditor side, Lorch is acting for Israel Discount Bank, the largest creditor of Eurocom Communications, in relation to the company's widely publicised insolvency, with debts over NIS1.8bn. Conversely, Lorch and Dror Vigdor were appointed by the Official Receiver to act for Israel Broadcasting Authority in connection with its liquidation pursuant to the the Public Broadcasting Law. Additionally, Oren served as one of three trustees for Globus Max and recently succeeded in selling the company's assets to Elco. Further, the team is acting for a group of unsecured lenders in relation to debt arrangements with Scorpio Real Estate, and also handles various customer insolvency matters for banks including Mercantile Discount Bank, Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot, and First International Bank of Israel.

Eitan Mehulal Sadot, Advocates & Patent Attorneys

The team at Eitan Mehulal Sadot, Advocates & Patent Attorneys has extensive experience in the management of insolvent companies and also acts for bondholders and other creditors. Of particular note, Karen Reichbach-Segal acted as joint trustee in a stay of proceedings involving Honigman & Sons, which had over 137 locations throughout Israel before the company's assets were successfully sold. Acting on the creditor side, the team advised a real estate company on the insolvency proceedings of Globus Max; the client was among Globus Max's largest creditors. Additional creditor clients include Bank Hapoalim and Union Bank. Further, Reichbach-Segal represented Poalei Agudat Israel Workers Union in its objection to a liquidation application filed against it alleging improper management. Guy Ido was recently promoted to partner.

M. Firon & Co Advocates and Notaries

M. Firon & Co Advocates and Notaries handles a wide range of insolvency and insolvency-related mandates, from acting in court-appointed roles to advising on purchasers on distressed acquisitions. Ron Bar-Nir is acting as liquidator for multiple companies with assets throughout Europe, and Shay Bar-Nir is representing various groups of bondholders in several separate insolvency actions. Additionally, both Bar-Nirs were appointed to liquidator roles in multiple insolvencies in the real estate and construction industry, and act for a major construction group, as creditor, in relation to insolvency proceedings involving its contractors and lessees. Further, the team acts as receiver for one of Israel's largest bank in relation to the insolvency of a project developer that had a debt with the bank.

Naschitz, Brandes, Amir & Co.

The team at Naschitz, Brandes, Amir & Co. acts for creditors and insolvent corporates and individuals in a wide range of bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings. Department head Alona Baumgarten was appointed as trustee of the portfolio of Globus Max, and also served as one of two trustees of S. Tanus Construction & Development in a successful stay of proceedings concerning its debts of over NIS500m. Baumgarten is also involved in multiple high-profile personal bankruptcies. On the creditor side, the team acts primarily for banks and secured creditors, such as Clal Insurance Enterprises Holdings and Bank Hapoalim. In one matter, the team advised Mercantile Discount Bank on proceedings associated with the liquidation of Beit Sasson. Another contact in the department is Yoav Razin, who has experience in corporate restructuring mandates.

S. Horowitz & Co

S. Horowitz & Co has extensive experience acting for banks and unsecured creditors in connection with large recovery mandates and debt restructurings. The team is engaged by many of Israel's most active banks, including Bank Hapoalim, which Ehud Arzi is representing in a number of proceedings regarding the recovery of debts totalling over NIS1bn. Arzi is also acting for Israel Discount Bank in bankruptcy proceedings against Eliezer Fishman. Further, the team has been acting for American Apparel Retail (Israel) throughout its voluntary liquidation. The team has also advised companies such as Paz Oil Company and Warner Bros. Entertainment Netherlands as trade creditors in connection with the insolvencies of Mega Retail and Globus Max, respectively. Additional contacts include Michelle Liberman and Ran Feldman.

Shaul Kotler Law Firm

Shaul Kotler Law Firm is a litigation boutique that focuses on bankruptcy and insolvency. Led by Shaul Kotler, the team has been involved in several high-profile insolvencies and has experience in liquidation proceedings involving companies with a multi-jurisdictional presence. In particular, Kotler acts as liquidator of Better Place, and was also appointed liquidator of Hapoel Tel Aviv Football Club.