Viola Credit, the debt arm
of the Viola Group, along with a group headed by businessman Yariv Lerner,
announced today the signing of a strategic agreement to acquire the Negev Group
(Negev Ceramics), owned by Africa Israel Industries, at a value of NIS 335
The deal includes
rescheduling of NIS 260 million in debt, plus the injection of NIS 75 million
into Negev Ceramics, to improve its cash flow.
The group of buyers brings
with it a combination of vast experience in financing, management, turnarounds
and accelerating growth of companies.
Negev, which was established
in the late 1960s, currently leads its field in Israel and employs about 750 people.
The company is engaged in three main areas: manufacturing of porcelain granite
tiles in the Yeruham production plant; retailing of home design solutions under
the brands of 'Via Arcadia', 'Negev' and 'Super Ceramic'; and importing and wholesaling
activities through an exclusive franchise for the 'Grohe' products in Israel.
Viola Credit's Founder
and General Partner, Ruth Simha,
said, "We regard Negev Ceramics as a veteran Israeli company and a leader
in its sector, with a leading and beloved brand and dedicated employees. We are
confident that with excellent management, cutting its debt, and a new injection
of funding, the company can once again be strong and prosperous, as it was for
many years, ensuring a stable home for its hundreds of dedicated
Yariv Lerner said, "Negev is a leading company in the field
of building products, beloved and popular among constructors, architects and
interior designers, in which we see true partners for our recovery plan that
will bring Negev back to its position as a growing and profitable market
Following the acquisition,
the buyers announced the appointment of Ori Gilboa as CEO of Negev Ceramics.
Gilboa served as a CEO of James Richardson for four years. Prior to that, he
served as CEO of the automotive division of Mira Group (Honda, Volvo, and
Jaguar), where he managed an operation of 1,500 employees and brought with him
extensive managerial, operational and marketing experience.
Yariv Lerner has been appointed an active chairman of the company,
and has worked as a CEO of Natalie Medical Services, which he successfully
rehabilitated and led the acquisition.
The Barnea & Co. law
firm advised Viola Credit in the acquisition.
It should be noted that the
transaction is subject to the approval of the Court and Antitrust Commissioner.