JERUSALEM (Reuters) – El Al Israel Airlines said on Tuesday it had raised 250 million shekels ($ 77 million) in an options sale on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, fulfilling a key condition for a loan guaranteed by the State necessary to repay the debts of the national airline. .

FILE PHOTO: An Israel El Al airline plane is seen after landing following its maiden flight from Tel Aviv to Nice at Nice International Airport, France, April 4, 2019. REUTERS / Eric Gaillard / File Photo

The airline said about $ 50 million came from majority shareholder Eli Rozenberg, a 27-year-old college student who bought the cash-strapped carrier in October, and $ 27 million from institutional investors.

El Al has reported losses for two years and has taken on debt to renew its fleet. It suspended scheduled passenger flights last March at the start of the coronavirus outbreak when Israel closed its borders to foreign citizens.

It started opening some routes in late 2020 to Israeli citizens, but was forced to stop those flights when the government closed the airport in an attempt to contain the virus last month.

Last year, the Israeli government offered to back 75% of a $ 250 million loan to El Al on condition that the group cut spending and issue $ 150 million in new shares.

With most of its staff on unpaid leave, El Al staged a share offer, in which the newly formed Kanfei Nesharim Aviation bought $ 107 million in shares in an offer last September that gave it a nearly 43% stake.

The state agreed to increase the loan amount – likely from Bank Leumi and Discount Bank – to $ 300 million with 82.5% backing, on condition that Rozenberg injects more money into the company. Aerial.

Eli Rozenberg is the son of Kenny Rozenberg, managing director of the New York-based nursing home chain Centers Health Care.

“We are in advanced negotiations to obtain the loan and with the completion of the aid framework we can begin the process of repaying our debt to customers and suppliers as well as a gradual resumption of flights,” said the general manager of the airline Avigal Soreq.

($ 1 = NIS 3.2395)

Reporting by Steven Scheer; edited by Jonathan Oatis

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