David Bondi resigns as Agrexco CEO

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Mike Knowles

BY MIKE KNOWLES

@mikefruitnet

David Bondi resigns as Agrexco CEO

Court-appointed trustee Shlomo Nass left to find buyer for troubled Israeli exporter before 20 July deadline

David Bondi resigns as Agrexco CEO

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David Bondi, chief executive of struggling Israeli fresh produce exporter Agrexco, has reportedly tendered his resignation in the wake of the company's recent debt crisis, just six months after taking on the role.

Accoding to a report in the Israeli business newspaper Globes, Shlomo Nass, who was recently appointed as trustee of the troubled agricultural enterprise by the Tel Aviv District Court, accepted Bondi's resignation and thanked him for his efforts to save the company.

Nass has also apparently asked Bondi to continue helping with attempts to rescue Agrexco by liaising with growers and potential buyers.

In a letter of resignation, Bondi commented: "I took up my post as CEO of Agrexco only six months ago. From the start, I was surprised to see that the situation of the company was extremely severe, and I applied all my professional expertise to help save the company and adapt it to the commercial circumstances. Saving the company became the supreme value guiding my conduct as CEO.

"Two weeks ago, you were appointed trustee, and in the light of the new situation I have decided to resign my post as CEO immediately.

"In order to continue the process of rescuing the company, I will continue to assist you, out of concern for the growers, and for Israel's agriculture industry and economy. I believe that, in the future, with the success of the rescue of the company, new facts will come to light that will make clearer the background to the situation and the reasons for my decision. I wish the company success."

Troubled times

The collapse of Agrexco, which exports Israeli agricultural produce under the Carmel and Alesia brands, began two weeks ago, when Globes revealed that rating company Midroog had downgraded the company's bonds by seven grades to a speculative B1 with a negative outlook.

The downgrade was attributed to a "substantial worsening" in Agrexco's business results and a one-time €16.7m write-down in assets.

Globes also reported that Agrexco has debts of €106m, including €35.2m to Israeli banks, €6m to foreign banks, €27.3m to bondholders, €2.1m to employees and local authorities, and €58m to uninsured creditors including suppliers and customers.

Late last week, in a letter sent to growers and seen by Eurofruit, Nass revealed that the Tel Aviv District Court had extended its freezing of proceedings until 20 July 2011, with the court also approving emergency funding to ensure the group could continue to operate during the interim period.

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