Avigdor Kaplan, chairman of Alon Blue Square Israel (BSI), the parent company of collapsed supermarket chain Mega, is returning the bonus he recently received and distributing it among Mega's employees, Channel 2 News revealed this evening.
On Sunday, Channel 2's main news bulletin reported on the large bonus that Kaplan had been awarded less than a week before Mega went into receivership – NIS 560,000, equivalent to seven monthly salaries for Kaplan. The report sparked sharp public criticism. This evening, Kaplan said that because of the publicity he was returning the bonus so that it could be distributed to the workers.
"I am employed by Dor Alon Energy in Israel (1988) Ltd. (TASE:DRAL), and receive my one and only salary from that company for all the tasks I fulfill in this group," Kaplan wrote, "The bonus given to me by Dor Alon Energy was determined and approved by its board of directors and paid by it. Dor Alon Energy in Israel is the parent of the parent of Mega, Alon Blue Square. I have never received any compensation for serving as the executive chairman of Mega's board of directors. I had no influence over the timing of the approval of my bonus."
Kaplan added, "I am aware of the public criticism of the fact that I received a bonus, and of the mistaken attribution of it to my work at Mega. My heart goes out to the employees and their families. I therefore decided to transfer the entire net sum paid to me as a bonus for the benefit of the Mega workers. I am sending a check for the amount of the bonus to the chairman of the Histadrut, who will decide how to use the money for the workers' benefit."
Kaplan has in fact sent a check for the full amount to Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) chairman Avi Nissenkorn. From the Histadrut the money will be transferred to the chain's employees, who still hope that it will find a buyer and that their jobs will be saved.
The amount that each employee will receive will be small, but sources close to Kaplan said that his action was mainly symbolic, and intended to demonstrate solidarity with the distress of the employees and the company.
Nissenkorn congratulated Kaplan on his announcement this evening. "The Histadrut will take care that the money will be used for the benefit of Mega's employees, and will continue its efforts to save the company and its dedicated workers."
Mega workers committee chairman Eyal Eli said, "We congratulate and thank Avigdor Kaplan for returning the bonus for the benefit of Mega's employees. All that remains is to regret that the controlling shareholders - Shraga Biran, David Wiessman and the kibbutzim – do not have Kaplan's nobility of soul, and that they, who are responsible for the company's collapse, are not returning the NIS 100 million in dividends that they drew from it."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 21, 2016
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