27-Year-Old Buys Controlling Stake In EL AL

Filed Under: El Al

EL AL has been looking for a new investor for the past several months. The airline was in a bad financial situation before the current pandemic started, and of course this situation just exacerbated EL AL’s problems.

27-year-old takes over EL AL

Around the beginning of July it was revealed that an unnamed party was interested in acquiring EL AL. It was later revealed that 27-year-old Eli Rosenberg, who currently lives in Jerusalem, was negotiating to take a controlling stake in EL AL. That now appears to actually be happening.

As you’d expect, there’s a backstory here — Eli’s father is Naftali Rosenberg, a New York businessman who owns nursing homes, private ambulance companies, and more. Eli has Israeli citizenship, which is a requirement of taking a controlling stake in the airline. His father, on the other hand, doesn’t have Israeli citizenship.

Rosenberg created Kanfei Nesharim Aviation, and that company bought $107 million worth of shares in EL AL, for a nearly 43% stake. In addition to that stake:

  • Israel’s government bought a 15% stake in EL AL for $34 million
  • EL AL’s previous owners, Knafaim Holdings, reduced their share from 38% to 15.2%

Rosenberg had previously offered $75 million in exchange for a 44.99% stake, but that offer has since been increased. The deal still requires approval from the parliament’s finance committee, and it’s said that Rosenberg will meet with the committee next week.

Prior to this deal being announced, the plan was for Israel’s government to nationalize EL AL. The country didn’t want to keep a stake in the airline long term, but rather only as long as needed to get the airline back on its feet.

Israel’s Transportation Minister said that the government would be willing to help the airline “as long as needed to maintain Israel’s aviation independence.” The government’s takeover plan would have been contingent upon approximately one third of employees being made redundant.

This plan would have seen the government investing up to $400 million in the airline, including providing a $250 million loan, and also purchasing $150 million in common stock, which would have given the government a 61% stake in the airline.

A 27-year-old is the new owner of EL AL

What changes could we expect to EL AL?

Frankly one has to wonder what private investor would want to take a stake in EL AL at this point. The airline has a lot of labor issues, and even in the best of times the airline struggled to be profitable. Short of national pride or some other play, I just can’t make sense of this. Now add in the fact that Emirates and Etihad will start flying to Tel Aviv, and EL AL will be in an even tougher spot.

What should we expect to change with EL AL’s new owners? Rosenberg wants to make changes to EL AL’s board, and wants to invest heavily in improving EL AL’s food and service.

A focus will be improving food and service on EL AL

Bottom line

A 27-year-old has purchased a roughly 43% stake in EL AL, meaning the airline will have a new controlling party. The plan is to improve EL AL’s food and service, though I’m still skeptical about how exactly there’s a return of investment to be had here, especially given EL AL’s historical lack of profitability…

What do you make of this situation with EL AL’s new owner?

  1. It all depends on the team he puts in place to manage the airline. Luck also plays a part, maybe the biggest part!

  2. Not sure why the age if the buyer is relevant here? It’s not like Mr. Rosenberg has control over his age than he does his race or ethnicity… This headline makes me uncomfy, the article less so.

  3. @ Vignesh Ashok — It’s relevant because it’s interesting, at least to me. To my knowledge he’s the youngest ever person to have a controlling stake in a major global airline, and that’s kind of cool (and if you don’t think so that’s fine, but maybe you can understand why I find it interesting). Not sure why that would make you “uncomfy?”

  4. Considering the huge Jewish diaspora and the huge Christian tourism sector of the economy, El Al should be profitable. But, of course, until recently it had third-world first-class and business-class products. There is absolutely no reason why El Al can’t make a lot of money on routes to and from Israel. It probably needs an exceptional business-class product and more creatively in the back with premium-economy and economy.

  5. @FNT Delta Diamond

    El Al has huge security costs and can only fly six days out of the week. That is a recipe for losing money. Unless the new ownership can change that, this is a vanity project.

  6. @ Vignesh Ashok

    Race, ethnicity, religion, and age are information. Why hide what people are. We should know 3/4 of the broadcast networks are operated by Jews (zelnick, sucker, Iger) as is the biggest social media company (Facebook) and search engine/video giant (google). Even boarding area has a disproportionate amount of Jews as bloggers. WWE/AEW have a disproportionate amount of Japanese talent (explained by Japan being a big wrestling country) and football has a disproportionate amount of Samoan talent.

    Why hide what people are. Let us make our own judgements.

  7. @ Jackson Henderson
    It seems to me that religion is only a factor if a Jew is mentioned.
    Going along the path you started, it seems that other ethnic groups are overrepresented in Sports, but that is never mentioned.
    Thankfully, in Italy we do not follow your path.

  8. As bad as El Al is they’ll find a way to squeeze every last drop from that shriveled turnip. Some of the reports on the dad’s way of running elderly care facilities is troubling to say the least.

  9. @ Nick in Chicago
    Unlike many I worked in several nursing homes in a medical capacity, Nursing homes in most states are very heavily regulated. Every fall, sore and daily staffing levels are reported to the State and have repercussions. There is a mutual effort to find the cause and prevent problems. I am not sure what you have seen or read but many people tend to speak while lacking knowledge.
    As shriveled a turnip you consider El Al to be, it will be easier than running a profit in a Nursing Home.

  10. @Ben it’s interesting indeed. I momentarily wondered how a headline like ‘South Asian takes control of a European airline’ would play out. The dynamics are clearly different here. Apologies.

  11. Hopefully Eli will help El Al launch service from Tel Aviv to Washington Dulles (lest all of that business go by default to United Airlines).

  12. Ben, curious as to why @Jackson Henderson’s obviously anti-Semitic trolling is allowed to remain up? It’s deliberately offensive, and has no place here. Please do remove it, thanks.

  13. Ben – Please protect your own reputation, you have no need to keep veiled bigoted comments on your blog. Doing so besmirches only you.

  14. Why is it offensive to commend long standing traditional groupings of people for succeeding in particular areas of enterprise ? It seems sensitivity varies, much in the same way that mileage does. Is there a preference that attention not be drawn to such information ? If so, why ?

  15. I hope that the substantial investment is also matched with substantial experience or some other business acumen of running a ,what has so far been a relatively unsuccessful carrier, let’s hope its not business as usual

  16. Ben, Thank you for keeping an open mind and not Blocking anyone that mentions the word J…
    I admire your candor. Jackson Henderson obviously knows what he is talking about.

  17. @SAL
    All Israeli airlines’ security costs are 100% subsidized by the Israeli Government, so that in itself should not have any significant direct impact on ElAl’s financial performance.
    There is also no one forcing ElAl to suspend operations on the Sabbath. Its a business decision ElAl itself made years ago in order to appeal to the very significant ultra-orthodox Jewish market. Its up to the new owner to decide if this decision is still valid.

  18. Pretty sad when we need to censor opinions because they make someone “uncomfy” by whatever standard and definition that is. If you’re that prone to melting I’d advise you quarantine longer inside, shut off your internet and just try and remain calm.

    Gotta laugh at the suggestion that Italy is more religiously or ethnically diverse and tolerant. 80%+ roman catholic and 92%+ “ethnic Italian” which is another way to say white.

    I’m going to need a fact check on that WWE Japanese ratio however….

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