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Israeli Company Walks Away from Egyptian Gas Holdings, Owner Sells Yacht

Tycoon Yossi Maiman is selling his yacht to pay off Egyptian gas losses.

Tycoon Yossi Maiman is selling his yacht to pay off Egyptian gas losses.
Photo Credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90

Ampal-American Israel Corp (Nasdaq: AMPL; TASE:AMPL) decided to write off its entire 12.5 per cent investment in East Mediterranean Gas, the company that sold Egyptian natural gas to Israel before Egypt called off the exports.

Ampal, which is controlled by Israeli tycoon Yossi Maiman, said this week that the cancelled 20-year deal and uncertainties about the future of Egypt led to its decision to consider that its holding in has no value.

Maiman, who back in 2006 was 18th on the list of Israel’s richest people, has put his yacht up for sale this week, as a belt tightening measure, following the poor performance of his company. The asking price is $35 million for the Noa 7, named for his daughter.

Maiman is trying to reach a settlement with Ampal bondholders, whom he recently reportedly told, “I have no money.”

The Noa 7 is a luxury yacht with several bedrooms, a gym, Jacuzzi, swimming pool, and tanning promenades.

Ampal has not entered in its books any amount it might stand to gain as a result of the legal battles it is conducting against the Egyptian government and the Egyptian gas company.

Ampal contends that the Egyptians are in breach of their contractual commitments, by not protecting the expected supply of natural gas from terrorist attacks in the Sinai. Its law suit is seeking compensation from the Egyptian government for the damage caused by the repeated stoppages in gas deliveries, which the company estimates at billions of dollars.

Egypt killed its 20-year gas deal with Israel last month, saying the Israelis hadn’t paid their bills. Israel, for its part, says it stopped the payments because the terrorist attacks all but cut off the gas supply last year.

The attacks became a serious threat to the pipeline after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had been toppled last year. has sued the Egyptian government over the disrupted gas supply.

Egyptian critics charge that Israel was getting the gas at below-market prices—which Israel denies—and that Mubarak’s cronies were skimming millions of dollars off the proceeds.

Israel relied on Egyptian gas for 40 per cent of its supply, and viewed the deal as a key component of its peace agreement with Egypt.

Ampal said it recorded charges of $260.4 million in the first quarter of 2012 in connection with its stake in East Mediterranean Gas.

Ampal’s financial report for the first quarter of 2012 states that it has a shareholders’ equity deficit of $132 million, after a net loss of $215 million for the first quarter, compared with a net profit of $17 million for the same quarter in 2011.

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