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Makor Rishon And NRG Sold To Yisrael Hayom

Sheldon Adelson, owner of nationalist newspaper Yisrael Hayom, wins bid on financially-strapped newspaper and news site.
By Shlomo Pyotrkovsky
First Publish: 3/27/2014, 12:27 PM

Sheldon Adelson
Sheldon Adelson
Reuters

Account Hen Berdichev, the trustee appointed by the Jerusalem District Court to the failing newspapers Makor RishonMaariv, and the news website NRG, has submitted his recommendations to sell Makor Rishon and NRG to the free-daily paper Yisrael Hayom.

The development was reported by the site Ha'ayin Hasvhi'it. It is worth noting that Yisrael Hayom is owned by Jewish-American millionaire philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, who is considered to be a friend and supporter of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The pro-Netanyahu paper has in recent years broken the left-wing monopoly on mainstream printed news.

Yisrael Hayom has been targeted by a new Knesset bill, attempting to force the paper to charge for its paper, reportedly making the paper less popular and influential. Surprisingly the Jewish Home party co-signed the bill that limits the nationalist paper, reportedly to put pressure on Netanyahu.

In the bidding process for the various newspapers, which are strapped with debt, Eli Azor, owner of Jerusalem Post, tried to match Yisrael Hayom's 14 million shekel (roughly $4 million) bid on Makor Rishon, and 3 million shekel (over $800,000) bid on the website NRG.

By successfully bidding for the news sources, Yisrael Hayom was obligated to employ 114 of the 120 Makor Rishon employees for at least 12 months, in addition to 90% of the newspapers freelancers and all 220 distribution workers for a similar time period.

As for the website NRG, the new owners were obligated to employ five of the 17 workers for a similar year long period.

"After examining the bids that were submitted, Yisrael Hayom's bid to acquire the activities of newspaper Makor Rishon and the internet site NRG were higher than the other offers in all parameters, to a meaningful and obvious degree, in terms of the sum and in terms of the numbers of workers that it obligated to continue to employ," wrote trustee Berdichev.

Currently, Berdichev reported that an offer on Maariv has not yet been finalized, adding "the option to receive higher offers eixsts." The trustee asked for time to continue searching for those interested in acquiring the paper.

The court will need to confirm the acquisition of the paper and website, after considering the various financial situations involved.