Eight groups purchased tender documents for the sale of the Israeli Cooperative Society's holdings in supermarket operator Blue Square.

Meanwhile, five groups purchased documents for the Coop's sale of its holding in the Hamashbir Lazarchan department store, it was announced yesterday. In July 2002, the Tel Aviv District Court approved a plan to sell the Coop's assets, with the proceeds from the sale to be divided among the cooperative's 22,000 members.

Among the groups that bought the documents -paying NIS25,000 (US$5,200) each - were Gaon Holdings, headed by Benny Gaon who previously served as Blue Square's Chairman; the Kardan Group; the Delek Group; Dor-Alon; Zadik Bino/Bank Leumi; Amnon Dik/Deutsche Bank; Eldan; and Motti Zisser.

The Cooperative's management committee will vet the bidders to ensure that they meet preliminary requirements before permitting them to conduct due diligence of the assets they wish to bid for, reported Haaretz. Those approved for final bidding will have to deposit a sum of NIS5m, which will gain them "full information access" regarding the assets they wish to purchase.

By Aaron Priel, just-food.com correspondent