COURIER THE OFFICIAL BUSINESS MAGAZINE OF THE MALTA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, ENTERPRISE AND INDUSTRY SINCE 1947
A master craftsman Building a visual language
NEWSPAPER POST GOLD COLLABORATING PARTNERS
IN THIS ISSUE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE GREECE SAGA ON THE EUROZONE INCLUDING MALTA / VALLETTA 2018 – ITS EFFECT ON BUSINESSES / JONATHAN SHAW SPEAKS CANDIDLY ABOUT HIS CAREER BREAK / WOMEN IN BUSINESS / TRADE MALTA’S NEWLY APPOINTED CEO ON TANGIBLE BENEFITS FOR BUSINESSES / IN THE STUDIO WITH ARTIST JESMOND VASSALLO / THE LATEST BUSINESS NEWS
COURIER SEPTEMBER 2015
09 COVER STORY
THE GLOVES COME OFF: WHAT’S NEXT FOR GREECE?
TRADE MALTA “FOCUSED ON SUPPORTING COMPANIES TO EXPAND OPERATIONS OVERSEAS”
Sarah Micallef consults Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, Shadow Finance Minister Mario de Marco and Economist Gordon Cordina on the Greek debt crisis that has dominated international headlines.
Trade Malta CEO Anton Buttigieg discusses his priorities for the coming months, the reason behind the setting up of Trade Malta, and how it can tangibly help businesses take their products or services to an international level.
16 COVER STORY VALLETTA 2018: A LANDMARK YEAR FOR BUSINESS?
Martina Said discusses the effects of Valletta 2018 on business with Valletta 2018 Foundation Chairman Jason Micallef, Chamber President Anton Borg and Valletta Mayor Alexiei Dingli.
30 IN FIGURES
52 MEET THE ARTIST A CRAFTSMAN AT WORK
A look into the figures related to the local bus service.
Painter, sculptor and printmaker Jesmond Vassallo showcases his great talent and sheds light on his passion for different media and techniques.
CAREER BREAK: COULD YOU DO IT?
37 WOMEN IN BUSINESS
104 DESIGN TRENDS
Businessman Jonathan Shaw talks Jo Caruana through the reasons why he has chosen to take a career break.
AT THE TOP OF THEIR GAME
A RAW SIMPLICITY
Martina Said speaks to a number of inspiring women occupying top positions in companies across different sectors.
Sarah Micallef speaks to architect Michael Pace about the clean, functional and fresh design of local diner chain Just Burger.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT… IN NUMBERS
stablished in 1947, The Commercial Courier is the official magazine of the The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry. It is the leading business magazine, having one of the best distribution channels in the sector. The publication is distributed for free to the members of the The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry. It is also distributed with The Malta Business Weekly as well as delivered to leading business people on the island.
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ON THE COVER ‘Wied il-Ghasel’, 2015. Oil on canvas, by Jesmond Vassallo. Photo by Alan Carville.
Malta chamber’s bronze collaborating partners SEPTEMBER 2015
Consolidation of success and attention to specific areas Summer is scarcely a time of relaxation for the business world, as many sectors experience their peak of business during the warm months. The same applies for the Malta Chamber for which summer means consulting its members for Budget measures, and then consolidating its position to present to Government.
n the conclusion of this process, the Malta Chamber believes that the overall objectives of this year’s Budget should be the continued consolidation of public finances as well a drive to enhance national competitiveness. Malta’s economy is doing relatively well and it is believed that this is an opportune time for Government to take the right decisions, invest and introduce measures aimed at galvanising Malta’s position such as providing more incentives to provide RTDI and Knowledge Transfer Programmes. It is the Chamber’s belief that, all in all, this would provide the opportunity for the country to think long-term and take the right decisions in order to make a quantum leap forward. To this end, the Chamber expects the 2016 Budget not to exert any excessive burdens on the business community whilst at the same time introducing schemes and 06
measures to keep assisting enterprises boost their competitive advantage. It is important to consider that business is disrupted by burdens ensuing from legislation and procedures that are already in force as well as from those that are missing or half-baked. Last year’s Budget, in fact, caused disruption to business on a number of fronts including the introduction of excise duties on wine and pneumatic tyres. The Malta Chamber therefore expects that in the 2016 Budget, similar measures will not be introduced haphazardly without prior consultation with impacted or interested
parties, a proper implementation plan and the necessary legislative backing. On a macro-economic level, it is positive to note that since June of this year, the Council of the European Union has closed Malta’s Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) since our deficit level has been reduced below the EU’s 3 per cent of GDP reference value. Indeed the outlook remains favourable with European Commission forecasts suggesting real GDP rates will grow by 3.6 per cent this year and by 3.2 per cent in 2016. It is interesting to note that the credit agencies and the European Commission
“The Chamber expects the 2016 Budget not to exert any excessive burdens on the business community whilst at the same time introducing schemes and measures to keep assisting enterprises boost their competitive advantage.” SEPTEMBER 2015
CC Editorial are basing their growth forecasts on major investments being made in the energy sector, which should be finalised by 2016. Nevertheless, this positive news should not eclipse the fact that some sectors are not registering the same rate of growth. Indeed one can speak of a dual-speed economy. In real terms exports declined last year when compared to 2013, which followed a similar drop the previous year. This trend seems to be persisting over the current year. During the first six months of 2015, the trade deficit widened further to €1,449.9 million with exports registering a decline of €190.2 million when compared to the corresponding period in 2014. The Malta Chamber also notes the consistent drop in Gross Value Added (GVA) in relation to the manufacturing sector. The 2016 pre-budget document notes that manufacturing has registered a drop of six per cent in the first quarter of this year when compared to the corresponding three months in 2014. These warning statistics are corroborated by NSO News Releases which show that the Index of Industrial Production has been in constant decline since February 2013, save for a few exceptions. It is therefore the duty of our political leaders and all stakeholders to make a
concerted effort to halt this process of deteriorating conditions in the manufacturing sector. Consequently, the Chamber reiterates its call for all stakeholders to engage in an active and exhaustive discussion about Malta’s competitiveness. Domestic demand alone cannot be the engine of long-term sustainable economic growth. Lasting economic growth needs to be driven by export-led activity and this requires the country to be competitive. It is also important to note that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) could be impacted in the short to medium term if the current low corporate tax rate is affected by the eurozone’s calls for the harmonisation of the corporate tax base and further developments which could prove harmful to the Maltese economy. In conclusion, the Malta Chamber is positive that next year’s Budget will be an opportunity for the country to consolidate on past successes, and address certain areas that are showing a dire need for attention. Getting our financial house in order remains a priority. The continued securing of foreign investment and export-based economic growth through competitiveness is necessary more than ever. cc
“It is the duty of our political leaders and all stakeholders to make a concerted effort to halt the process of deteriorating conditions in the manufacturing sector.”
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The gloves come off: what’s next for Greece? The Greek debt crisis has dominated international headlines for months, spawning rife opinions and heated debates on the circumstances that have led to the country’s present financial troubles, as well as the best way out – if indeed, there is one. Sarah Micallef consults the experts. SEPTEMBER 2015
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“The test of keeping errant members within the euro family while towing the line set for the group has been passed.” Finance Minister Edward Scicluna
ince the election of former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) in January, the situation in Greece has escalated into a showdown with Europe, leaving the Greek economy in tatters. Speaking of whether it is possible for the Greek brand to weather the storm, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna asserts that any country’s reputation can be quickly lost and takes years to repair, yet believes that the damage may not be irreparable. Following the approval of the new bailout deal, it may yet be possible for Greece to turn things around. Having come face to face with a default and Grexit, Minister Scicluna believes that, tasting the “terrible possibilities” which would ensue, both the people and the members of the eurozone learnt a valuable lesson. “Greece learnt that, no matter how bitter the medicine attached to the bailout might be, it does not come near the catastrophe associated with a default, while the eurozone learnt that the conditions which everyone now refers to as an austerity programme need to be modified and softened. This is needed for the sake of much needed growth,” he asserts. According to Shadow Finance Minister Mario de Marco, despite being a strong, Western nation steeply anchored in the very European democratic values it had itself founded, Greece’s current situation boils down to “unscrupulous politicians, who for years, promised heaven on Earth and spent way beyond their nation’s means, solely as a means to hang on to power.” The result, he maintains, is “a bankrupt nation, with the ordinary citizen having to pay the price.” Having said this, he too feels that the country’s reputation and economy may yet be salvageable, due largely to its association with the EU. “If Greece were an isolated economy, the risk of irreparable damage, further economic collapse and anarchy would be real. But despite the turbulent relationship, the fact that the country is anchored into the European Union provides a reason for us to be cautiously optimistic that Greece will rise again to be a fruitful partner to the European community,” he maintains. Drawing on the country’s vibrant tourism 10
industry, strong maritime tradition and potential for growth in the services industry, Dr de Marco believes that the foundations for economic survival and eventual financial growth are there, yet warns that its “bloated public sector and outdated regulatory practices” will need a radical overhaul. “It is now for the Greeks to execute the reforms they badly need to implement for their own survival,” he affirms. Leading economist Gordon Cordina explains that fiscal unsustainability is a big deterrent to investment, and the Greek
economy specifically contains little by way of significant international activity outside tourism and agricultural production, which are both strongly dependent on inherent territorial characteristics, and is thus relatively shielded though still affected by the economic confidence issue. “The imperative is for reforms leading to labour and other costs in Greece to fall in relative terms, productivity to increase and investment to recover in traditional and new areas as macroeconomic stability is slowly restored,” he states, though significantly adds, “this SEPTEMBER 2015
CC COVER STORY has however been the hope, forlorn though it was, of the past five years or so.” Speaking of the country’s fallout with the EU, Dr Cordina maintains that the developments over the past weeks indicate a realisation that the EU cannot be without Greece as much as Greece cannot be without the EU. “Grexit was possibly more about negotiating posturing rather than an effective possibility considered by either party to the talks. It is important for this to be followed up by sensible gradual economic reconstruction of the country, with all the pain that this will entail to the population,” he affirms. Indeed, Dr de Marco believes that “to achieve consolidation of the country’s wrecked finances, more austerity will be
needed,” yet highlights the fact that Greece went from a deficit in its structural budget balance that was close to 20 per cent in 2009, to a breakeven point in 2013. “There might be a big debate on whether austerity works, but despite many having had doubts, we are seeing that reform programmes are yielding positive results in the other bailout countries. Ireland, Spain and Portugal were all countries on the way to collapse in 2009 – and today, after taking hard decisions, they are experiencing a return to growth, increase in employment and a generally more positive outlook,” he continues, maintaining that for the country to survive, it needs a tough measure of austerity coupled with a strong drive towards economic growth.
Shifting to a European perspective, there is speculation that the Greek situation has spurred on leftist movements in other member states, and that we will see a wave of them in the next elections. Asked whether he believes the Greek situation will indeed fuel this, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna asserts that it would be a national political issue which all centre leaning governments or parties must face. “The eurozone has now learnt that being too harsh with moderate governments results in more extreme groups becoming popular,” he maintains. Certainly, as Shadow Finance Minister Mario de Marco adds, historically, parties on the extreme end of political spectrums have tended to flourish at times of crisis – and this is what is currently happening in Europe. “In
“To achieve consolidation of the country’s wrecked finances, more austerity will be needed.” Shadow Finance Minister Mario de Marco
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times of crisis, people tend to lose faith, often justifiably, in the traditional political class, and root for fringe parties which reflect the anti-establishment feeling,” he says, adding that anti-EU sentiments are also partly to blame on national governments. Dr de Marco goes on to assert that the Greek scenario is also the result of financial profligacy, exorbitant projects and successive governments willing to promise better conditions, lower taxes and better pensions, until finally, the country reached the point of no return. “One could definitely have a discussion on whether austerity measures work when a country is in such a crisis, but it would have been unfair on the citizens of other member states to expect Greece to be given financial assistance – which is ultimately tax payer money – without expecting tough reforms in return. Other countries, including Malta, had taken such bold steps during the past 20 years – not easy decisions by any means – but they allowed us to enjoy sustainable growth without endangering our future,” he affirms. Echoing this sentiment, Dr Gordon Cordina maintains, “this experience proves that politicians cannot act against the fundamental rules of economics in the long run... and the longer they do so, the greater the cost to the country and its population.” Moreover, despite the agreed upon bailout deal being considered a sign that Greece will stay in the eurozone for the foreseeable 14
future, recent events have seen Greece coming close to a divorce from the euro area – with membership having thus far been looked upon in the form of a traditional marriage – that is, a lifelong union. Does this have the potential to change the overall perspective of the other member states in relation to their commitment to the euro project? On the contrary, according to Minister Scicluna, recent events have sealed the permanency of the euro membership once again. “Some would say that the verdict has been postponed, but I cannot see a bigger test than the one the eurozone has been faced with. And one can say with confidence that the test of keeping errant members within the euro family while towing the line set for the group has been passed,” he asserts. Dr de Marco is in agreement, affirming that despite the obstacles encountered, the Greek saga has shown the strength in unity that builds the foundation of the EU. “One might say that major EU countries stood to lose out if Greece left the EU – with the Greeks owing most of their debts to major European banks – yet despite the aggressive attitude taken by the Greek government, the EU remained committed to support
Greece on the EU’s own conditions,” he says, and owing to this, the EU remains a strong community, proven by the fact that it continues to grow. “Needless to say, the emphasis has to be on the fact that it is a community and members cannot and should not pick and choose the rules they wish to abide by. Membership is not à la carte. Hence one will be monitoring with interest the developments of the United Kingdom approach over the next few months,” Dr de Marco adds. Maintaining that there are no provisions for divorce from the EU, Dr Cordina defines euro area membership as a marriage between many partners with diverse characteristics, based on the hope that being within the marriage will automatically increase compatibility. “Exit from the euro area has never been tested nor is it prescribed in any document, and is likely to be catastrophic for all involved,” he warns. On a domestic level meanwhile, the country is not out of the woods either, as seven months into his term as Prime Minister, Tsipras announced his resignation, and called for an election which is set to take place this month. Speaking before the Greek Prime Minister’s resignation was announced, Dr de Marco asserts that Tsipras has been weakened by the situation, with the referendum decision having clearly boomeranged. “It will be a tough few months ahead, but one hopes to see common sense both from the Greek side and the EU to seek a solution which can truly help Greece get back to its feet and maintain a solid position within the European Union, in a way which does not dampen the European recovery – and actually avoid a dangerous return to economic uncertainty which the continent cannot afford,” he states. Finally, the question on many lips locally is how the entire scenario affects Malta. What impact has the Greek situation had locally, in relation to loans the country has taken out in order to contribute to Greece’s bail out? Dr Cordina believes that Malta’s small size implies that little can happen within the euro area which would effectively lead the country to be a net loser from this arrangement. “While it is true that the country’s loans in this context may be written off, we are overall gaining from membership, not least by the weakening of the currency which is helping manufacturing and tourism. The development of the financial services sector, the relatively low interest rates, and the country’s standing in the attraction of foreign direct investment continue to be wellserved by membership in the euro area,” he concludes. cc
“Exit from the euro area has never been tested nor is it prescribed in any document, and is likely to be catastrophic for all involved.” Economist Gordon Cordina SEPTEMBER 2015
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Photo by Malcolm Debono - viewingmalta.com
Valletta 2018: A landmark year for business? Regeneration works and efforts in Valletta are at their peak as the city awaits its turn as European Capital of Culture in 2018. Martina Said talks to Valletta 2018 Foundation Chairman Jason Micallef, Chamber President Anton Borg and Valletta Mayor Alexiei Dingli to shed light on how 2018 promises to be a good year for business.
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ith merely three months left until the start of 2016, the countdown to Valletta’s starring role as European Capital of Culture 2018 has well and truly begun. The capital has undergone numerous changes in its lifetime, but may be undergoing its most wide-ranging change yet. Its entrance has been transformed, some of its oldest buildings are in the process of being restored after years of neglect and its entertainment districts are being reinvented. Next year, however, will be a crucial one for consolidating all that’s been done so far, and for stepping up efforts on some of the biggest and most ambitious projects to be
completed by 2018. Jason Micallef, Chairman of the Valletta 2018 Foundation, the entity responsible for implementing the project and its cultural programme, says the next phase of works will in fact see a number of individual projects coming together, a stepping up of the communications campaign and increased efforts to build closer ties with the Foundation’s stakeholders, including hotels, catering establishments, service providers, shops and the business community, with whom varying relationships and corporate partnerships are already being established. “We are talking about a sharper use of media channels and online platforms, further
meetings with communities at a local and regional level, and the materialisation of a national cultural calendar in collaboration with the Malta Tourism Authority, with the support of Arts Council Malta and all related public cultural organisations,” says Mr Micallef. “Our actions will also bring us closer to the private sector, be they cultural operators, destination management companies or entrepreneurs investing in the regeneration of Valletta and the harbour areas. We are especially looking forward to the legacy we aim to establish through the . opening of MUZA, the new Museum of Art in collaboration with Heritage Malta, the Valletta Design Cluster, led by the Ministry for Culture, the revamped Suq (Valletta Market) and the revitalisation of Strait Street.” Anton Borg, President of the Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, says Valletta’s designation as European Capital of Culture in 2018 is a considerable opportunity for Malta’s capital city, as well as the rest of Malta and Gozo on a number of levels, not least on a commercial and business level. “The Malta Chamber welcomes the Valletta 2018 Foundation’s drive to bring about cultural, social and economic regeneration to the capital city. The business community can actively partake in this process, as is evidently already the case,” says Mr Borg. He adds that Valletta is currently experiencing a veritable renaissance with an unprecedented injection of investment in terms of the catering and hospitality industry. “A surge in the number of boutique hotels that have opened their doors in the past 17
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months is symptomatic of this phenomenon, and applications for new ones prove there is a continued trend in this regard.” Mr Borg asserts that local as well as international entrepreneurs are finding the European Capital of Culture platform enticing, and therefore investing in a variety of ventures in Valletta in preparation for 2018. “This will shed new light on the city and is expected to draw new attention. It is a great opportunity to really place Valletta on the map.” Additionally, studies show that the average increase in overnight stays when compared to the previous year is of about 11 per cent for cities hosting the European Capital of Culture, says Mr Borg. “The Malta Chamber augurs that this surge in economic activity will be sustained in the long term, and that investors and entrepreneurs will use 2018 as a spring board that will take them beyond the target year.” Valletta Mayor Alexiei Dingli says the transformation the city is currently undergoing is rather incredible. “Only a decade ago, we had a dying capital city with a dwindling and ageing population. In the past five years, it has turned into a thriving city, the place of choice for many for day and night, and a magnet for artists and culture appreciators.” Prof. Dingli says he is satisfied with Valletta’s drive towards restoration 18
“Our actions will bring us closer to the private sector, be they cultural operators, destination management companies or entrepreneurs investing in the regeneration of Valletta and the harbour areas.” Jason Micallef, Valletta 2018 Foundation Chairman from an architectural perspective, but a lot more still needs to be done to protect the city’s unique heritage. He cautions against interventions that could negatively affect the city, such as building heights and shop signage, which the authorities should oversee, and appeals for more resources so that work on the city can be carried out more professionally. He adds that he is not satisfied with Valletta’s social progress. “I feel that the residents are being neglected in this grand plan of regeneration. Their needs are not being addressed and each day, they’re living a difficult situation. They do not have the appropriate sports facilities, sheltering facilities (especially the more vulnerable such as the elderly), they face a parking problem every day, and the list goes on. If we neglect the residents of the city, we will be depriving Valletta of its soul. We need to reverse this trend in order to ensure healthy and holistic regeneration for our capital.” Chamber President Anton Borg adds that Valletta must engage seriously in a culture
of excellence and that city management be taken to the next level. “Valletta remains a city of contradictions with world-class heritage sites which are arguably second to none, only to be flanked by elements and structures which do them no honour,” he asserts. “It is useless for the country to invest, and draw the world’s attention with Renzo Piano’s masterpiece project, only to place an open market in its midst. It is useless to boast about the Caravaggios at St John’s Co-Cathedral when the surroundings are not kept in top shape. Authorities must lead by example, and contribute factually to the culture of excellence.” Mr Borg says the same principles must be applied to businesses, as well-read and discerning customers are increasingly discriminatory on the basis of quality service. “This is one of the recommendations the Malta Chamber included in its Economic Vision for Malta 2014-2020. Valletta establishments, as well as others across the island, must strive to provide excellent service at all times. They must continue to SEPTEMBER 2015
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invest in their human resources in order for them to be equipped to deal with an everrising profile of customers. This edge is what will most likely give the advantage to one business and not another.” With respect to local businesses, Prof. Dingli believes they are already benefitting from the city’s European Capital of Culture status and will continue to do so, as Valletta is attracting the attention of various organisations in the international scene. “More people will get to know about the city’s astonishing heritage and eventually decide to visit it. In fact, Malta’s already experienced an increase in its tourism industry and we envisage that the numbers will keep on increasing.” Prof. Dingli says the Valletta Local Council is working closely with the Valletta 2018 Foundation by actively participating in board meetings and events that take place in Valletta. “We help each other in various ways in order to ensure that 2018 will be a successful year for all. It is in everyone’s interests to ensure it is not just a date in our calendar but a stepping stone for greater things.” cc
“Valletta establishments, as well as others across the island, must strive to provide excellent service at all times – this edge is what will most likely give the advantage to one business and not another.” Anton Borg, Chamber President
“Only a decade ago, we had a dying capital city with a dwindling and ageing population. In the past five years, it has turned into a thriving city, the place of choice for many for day and night.” Alexiei Dingli, Valletta Mayor SEPTEMBER 2015
Career break: Could you do it? Time is the luxury we all crave today – which is exactly why corporate workers across the world are taking year-long career breaks. Having chosen to do exactly that, businessman Jonathan Shaw tells Jo Caruana why he’s taken this exciting step back.
“Even if you adore what you do, there could be a lot of value to be found in taking a step back from it for a few months, or even a year, and doing something completely different.” Photos by Alan Carville SEPTEMBER 2015
onday. A new day and a new week but, probably, the same routine. You will get up, have your breakfast and head to work – to a job that you know, love and excel at, and a career that you’ve built from scratch. From where you’re standing that’s probably a very good thing: you’re secure, you’re comfortable, and you’re ready to conquer another week, just as you did last week and the week before. But what if you could be doing something completely different? What if you stopped for a moment and decided that you didn’t want to experience the same routine this week, or next week, or even the one after that? “You could take a career break instead,” smiles well-known businessman Jonathan Shaw. “As outlandish as that sounds, you really could. You could sell your business, delegate your work, ask your boss for an unpaid sabbatical or rent out your home. Even if you adore what you do, there could be a lot of value to be found in taking a step back from it for a few months, or even a year, and doing something completely different.” 23
CC interview his character: he loves challenges and believes that, when something becomes too repetitive, he gets uninspired. “It’s a bit like the seven-year itch,” he smiles. “I’m so excited to try something new. Everyone has their own bucket list and I see this as an opportunity to do many of the things that have long lingered on mine.” Jon believes that each decade of your working life brings different opportunities. “Your early 20s are all about experimenting with what you want to do so you can try different things. In your 30s you start zoning in and focusing on your company or area of expertise. This means that, by the time you’re in your 40s, you’re probably pretty good at what you do and have left a mark… Which brings me to my own 40s – I found that I arrived here craving something, and with the desire to completely rethink my current skillset and what I would like to do next.” Career breaks are hardly a new phenomenon, although they were previously most associated with women taking time off to raise their children. However, there are many other reasons too: some people want to travel, others want to change career direction, while others still, like Jon, simply want a break from their day-to-day life so as to reboot and revaluate. “In the grand scheme of things, taking a year or so off really isn’t that big a deal,” he continues. “If you think about it, you start working when you’re around 22, and carry on until you’re 65, or even older. Your 40s, therefore, provide the perfect middle ground: the break between your early career years and your later ones.
“I’ve even signed up to a sculpting class – it’s been on my bucket list for a long time and I finally have the time to do it!”
Jon speaks from experience. He is currently a few months into his own career break and he is relishing the chance to do things he has never previously had time for. That said, it was no easy decision to make this move. Ingrained in the business scene, Jon has launched and managed several companies and projects, with the latest being the retail fashion franchises Tommy Hilfiger, Hilfiger Denim and Armani Jeans. “Some projects worked brilliantly while others didn’t; some have ceased while others are still going strong,” he says. “It was all part of growing up. I have now decided to move on from all of them and am pretty much free from business ties at the moment. This is a completely new phase in both my work and personal life.” Jon puts this career break down to 24
“Some projects worked brilliantly while others didn’t; some have ceased while others are still going strong.”
“After all, while you might be the right person to do your job when you first start out, your skills will evolve over time and you will have changed. You may find that you’ve outgrown your current position, or that you’re now best suited to something different, while someone else will be better matched to your old role.” Jon explains that a successful career gap starts with a ‘can do’ attitude’. “Of course there are a million reasons not to take one,” he says, “and it isn’t for everyone. But I do think that, if you want to do it, you can, no matter who you are, who you work for, and where you are in your life. “There are so many options you could play around with. For instance, if you have your own company, then you could divide your responsibilities between your staff members and take a step back. If you’re employed, then you could speak to your boss about taking extended unpaid leave; some employers are actually keen to do this as staff are often hugely reinvigorated and re-inspired after their time away. It’s not easy, but it’s certainly not impossible.” Jon says that, having decided that he wanted to do it, he approached his own career break with positivity and an open mind. “One of the most exciting aspects has been determining what I’d like to do with my time,” he says. “There are books I want to read, places I want to travel to, people I want to spend time with, cultural projects I want to get involved in and I plan to improve my fitness. This has been a very freeing period so far and I am embracing everything that comes my way. I’ve even signed up to a sculpting class – it’s been on my bucket list for a long time and I finally have the time to do it!” That said, Jon’s business mind rarely stops buzzing and he knows it won’t be long before a project captures his interest and he’s back behind the boardroom table. “I won’t be working to a fixed schedule, but I will still be offering boutique business consultancy services to companies that need an outside eye. My years of handson experience have provided me with certain knowledge, and I am definitely keen to pass that on, whether by helping to create company structures, aid corporate governance, support start-ups or simply be an extra ear to bounce ideas off. This will keep me in touch with the business world, and I will doubtlessly find it very exciting to learn from these clients too.” SEPTEMBER 2015
“I won’t be working as such for now, but I will still be offering boutique business consultancy services to companies that need an outside eye.”
Finally, Jon is eager to encourage those considering a career break to really embrace the idea. “Believe that it will do you good,” he says, “and find the value in it. “This sabbatical would be a period in your life like any other – three months, six months, or a year – but you could have so
much to gain. If you plan for it and get over the logistical hurdles, then you will be able to do it. And, once you take that decision to go for it, tell people – this will mean you’ll be less likely to chicken out! If it does happen, who knows where it might lead? Monday has the potential to never be the same again!” cc 27
Finding the right property for your business A real estate agency in Malta tends to be a highly successful business, with significant turnover and constant and rising demand – sometimes outstripping supply. The larger of these agencies, especially the more established and reputable ones, do not only deal with residential properties, although those certainly have pride of place, but over time they have developed commercial property divisions in the knowledge that a different sort of sales experience is relevant in this field. These divisions are themselves often a catalyst for the generation, expansion and creation of new successful business in Malta.
he commercial property consultant works directly with the client to understand the particular specifics of the proposed business venture for the property required. Purchasing or renting commercial space is an intricate part of a company’s business plan and the decision of what and where to buy can make or break a business. That’s why commercial property divisions, such as the one at Frank Salt Real Estate based in St Julian’s, employs a team of multi-talented experts with backgrounds in different commercial fields such as tax, management, residence issues, law and IT, which provide important knowledge to help evaluate the customer and to direct it to property that will enhance the project. The more detailed the property negotiator’s understanding of the business venture, the better the property fit that can be located. Searching for commercial property is an important part of the project investment. If it is a new venture, perhaps still in the concept stage, then certain decisions about the near future, say three to five years, will have to be taken. Is a small premises suitable – one that will carry a low rent and low overheads so that all profit can be ploughed back into the company? Or does the client visualise growth that will require taking on additional staff? If new staff cannot be accommodated will that prevent the business from expanding? Future costs in terms of re-location and early termination of a lease agreement can have serious 28
negative impact on a business. Received wisdom suggests not taking on more than is needed at an early stage, but sometimes that decision may carry costs in terms of inability to expand fast enough. An experienced commercial negotiator, recognising this dilemma, can perhaps source property with options to expand – whether that means the future possibility of renting adjacent space, or buying a property large enough at the start which can be renovated or done up in phases as required. The more they understand the client’s business, the better position they are in to assist. Total professionalism and discretion are part of the deal. In terms of the current market for commercial property, local demand is on the increase, surpassed further by external demand from Europe, South Africa, Russia and North Africa. Businesses looking to expand into Malta, use Malta as a hub, or simply start off here – with anything from single individuals to established brands – have to work out what is suitable for their needs and growth. But doing this without knowing the ins and outs of what Malta has to offer across the whole commercial property range can lead to expensive mistakes. The role of a specialised commercial property division is precisely to offer mediation between the expectations and the realities of working in Malta. Some ventures may be reworked on a smaller scale, others may see the potential for faster growth. Whatever the case, the location and the value of a commercial property is crucial.
We tend to think of commercial property as offices or office blocks, some for sale and some for rent. Anyone working in commercial property soon understands that although office space is indeed the prime player in this field, there are as many types of commercial properties as there are ideas for business. There is high demand for retail spaces from both local and foreign, mainly Italian, clients. There is also constantly expanding interest in indoor and outdoor spaces to be used as restaurants, bars, cafés, clubs and other similar enterprises. Others are looking for sites for development – perhaps for the building of new blocks of apartments instead of existing houses. A recent trend, based on the increasing numbers of visitors to Malta in SEPTEMBER 2015
all seasons, is that of the search for property to be turned into boutique hotels, bed and breakfast operations, language schools, or high-end concierge managed apartments for holiday lets – the only problem is that this sort of building is in short supply. Some lovely old Valletta houses, however, have recently been transformed into little hotels full of character, others into language schools and others into offices, shops, cafés and so on. The interest in the restoration of beautiful old properties to be used for different purposes is on the rise. Buildings rich in architectural features, carved stonework and large internal layout are not only to be found in Valletta. The three cities across the Grand Harbour host many such buildings which are not as pricy as the Valletta locations and offer wonderful possibilities for prestigious company head offices or small boutique hotels full of character and charm. Commercial centres such as Sliema, St Julian’s and Valletta attract a lot of activity. Companies with a young workforce tend to like to offer their staff the opportunity to work within a bustling centre with many places to go for lunch breaks and after-work drinks. Some of the high-end purpose-built office spaces are to be found between Sliema and St Julian’s. These are premises which are finished to high standards with luxurious common areas, visitors’ parking and all amenities. Such office spaces are ideal for those kinds of businesses which receive discerning clients for meetings, and they also tend to be the best known and SEPTEMBER 2015
most prestigious business addresses, as in the case of Portomaso Business Tower, the up and coming Pender Place in St Julian’s, the (still on plan) Town Square in Sliema, and some others. However, it is not all business that needs to be situated at the heart of commercial activity in the most expensive per metre sites. Large reputable companies have moved inland, some to purpose-built blocks in Mriehel, Mosta, San Gwann and other areas, reaping the benefits of lower per metre costs if they purchase, lower rents, less traffic congestion, easier parking and a quieter environment. A visitor might not be able to recognise the benefits of inland localities as business locations since they are not so visible but with Malta being so small most areas are easily accessible – these options tend to pay dividends in terms of lower initial costs. Another important option which a commercial consultant will help with is whether to buy or to enter into a lease for a commercial property. Commercial leases tend to be for longer time periods than residential property leases. The average tends to be three to five years for commercial spaces and one year for residential. Leasing may suit a business that is a start-up as it requires less up-front capital and a lower bank loan. It may also suit business that may be in Malta temporarily or those still considering whether or not to establish long-term roots here. However, the property market being as lucrative as it is in Malta, and the fact that the island is small and limited in available space for development, it usually makes good business sense to purchase property since it is bound to increase in value in a few years, thereby adding to the overall value of the company’s assets. Armed with the inside knowledge of your business to help you make the right choice, a commercial property consultant you can trust will deal with your requirements in strictest confidence. “We have numerous requests from business owners wishing to retire who have full trust in our discretion and thus make use of our services to help them sell their business, when their primary asset is a commercial property. This is due to the fact
that our reputation for full confidentiality is second to none,” says Rita Schembri, Head of the Commercial Division of Frank Salt. Other benefits of working with a trusted and long established company like Frank Salt Real Estate, is that in addition to taking care of your property needs, the company also offers services geared towards new residents setting up their businesses in Malta in terms of legal processes, company registration, tax matters and so on. This comprehensive service can smooth out the difficulties in setting up a new business in Malta, as well as the residency issues associated with such a move. Frank Salt Real Estate also has the largest property database, constantly updated in real time, which provides clients with a full property picture of what the country has on offer at any time. cc Frank Salt Real Estate Commercial Division – T: 2379 4181; E: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.franksalt.com.mt
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Buses in Malta… IN Figures
the number of bus passengers in 2014 exceeded the 40 million figure for the first time
per cent a significant increase in the number of passengers that used buses in 2014 compared with the previous year
per cent the number of passengers that used buses last year is 10 per cent higher than the peak year of 1990, when 39.8 million passengers used the local buses
inspections on infrastructure used for the provision of the scheduled bus service
all time low figure of passengers using buses in Malta… and that happened in 2002
per cent contrary to wide-scale public perception punctuality recorded an impressive 97 per cent figure last year; a 3 per cent improvement over 2013
3,000 the regulator (Transport Malta) carried out almost 3,000 inspections on board buses
in its final year of operations in Malta Arriva received €10.6 million in subsidies to retain its operations in Malta
The new Spanish operator was allocated a significant increase in subsidies, which this year are expected to reach €23 million and a further increase is being projected for 2016
3,186 checks carried out on drivers and staff in 2014
Source: Malta International Airport
CC TEST DRIVE
Superb new Volvo XC90 lands in Malta The Commercial Courier test-drives the brand new Volvo XC90, one of the most luxurious SUVs to hit Malta’s roads.
es, the pun was indeed intended. Sitting in the new Volvo XC90 feels like sitting in the plush cockpit of a modern aircraft that has just landed on our shores. Perhaps, the only aspect that is missing (in a cockpit) is the sheer level of luxury and refinement that dominates the experience inside the new XC90. The new Volvo XC90 feels, and is intrinsically, very ‘new’ – the design of the exterior is arguably one of the sharpest, and perhaps the most stunning, that Volvo has produced to date; and very likely its design characteristics will eventually shape other models in the range, not least that of its smaller sibling – the popular XC60. The design is ‘new’ because it feels, and is, radically different to its predecessor, which was already a very competent 4x4. The exterior look is very fresh and crisp, with a stylish front that features one of the coolest headlamps on the market, as well as a form of rebranded Volvo badge that looks much sleeker and blends very well with the aerodynamic external design of the new XC90. On the exterior, what really connects the new XC90 to its predecessor and undoubtedly to the whole Volvo range is its back, which although redesigned from scratch, still carries the iconic design
characteristics that define the Volvo brand, recognisable even from quite a distance. If the exterior is stunning, the interior is something else. Indeed, the interior has a unique wow factor… that celebrity lookand-feel that is hard to come by. We have personally never come across such a bold statement in a dashboard. The central control unit is dominated by a dynamic ‘tablet-look-a-like’ touch screen that guides you (in the same sophisticated-yet-userfriendly way that an Apple or a Samsung smart phone or tablet does) through the navigation of the vehicle – so you can touch and swipe through the endless list of features that make this car so special (we test-drove
Photos by Alan Carville
the Inscription model, which is the fully specked model. Notwithstanding that, even the entry level model is very generous and loaded with equipment that is sadly often branded as ‘optional’ by competitive brands). The interior is very appealing aesthetically, with high-end stitched leather that somehow connects the seats, dashboard and the interior of the doors in a stunning fashion. Back to the ‘tablet’, which incidentally has one of the best graphics and resolution
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tested to date. This tablet is your best friend inside the luxury cabin. Through the tablet you can use your satellite navigation, set the climate control, pick the music that tickles your fancy, instruct the vehicle to find a parking space (daunting task in tiny Malta, but nonetheless it is a task performed to perfection), and you can also instruct the vehicle to park itself automatically. The car is fully equipped with extras and scores very highly (top marks) when it comes to safety, and that includes alerting you if you are getting too close to comfort to the car in front of you by measuring distance versus your acceleration and it takes an instant average. It also promptly brings to your attention the fact that you have departed from your lane, and it does so to perfection. On a practical level, the interior is also very spacious, with ample headroom and legroom for all sizes of adults. All new Volvo XC90s imported to Malta by GasanZammit have seven seats, making the new XC90 a very strong contender for families or people who enjoy travelling with friends. SEPTEMBER 2015
VERDICT If youâ€™re scouring the market for a brand new luxurious seven-seater SUV you should seriously consider booking a test-drive to experience for yourself the new XC90. It is an SUV that scores very highly in all areas. Owning the XC90 is equivalent to pleasing both the heart and the mind: owning and driving a practical spacious SUV and at the same time going round in a luxury executive vehicle that is very difficult to beat. It is also a head-turner and a fresh, brand new model that will be around for many years to come.
The driving experience per se is superlative. Very smooth handling, solid grip and road handling, excellent suspension, beautiful torque and response are all characteristics that make the new Volvo XC90 one of the hottest and greatest large SUVs currently available on the local market. cc You may view the brand new Volvo XC90 at GasanZammit Motors Ltd at Gasan Centre, Mriehel Bypass, Mriehel. For more information T: 2778 8200; E: email@example.com 33
CC case study
Mediterranean Bank: from start-up entity to Malta’s third largest bank CEO of Mediterranean Bank Mark Watson takes Sarah Micallef through the bank’s five-year success story, and reveals what’s next on the agenda for Malta’s third largest bank.
aving been set up in 2004 as a Swiss style private bank focusing on offshore high net-worth individuals, Mediterranean Bank was to start a new chapter in 2009, when it was purchased and recapitalised by the management team with the backing of Anacap, a UK-based private equity fund specialising in financial services. From then on, as CEO Mark Watson maintains, the aim was to create “a highly focused bank specialising in savings and investments for the mass affluent market place, whilst developing a differentiated corporate lending business for medium to large enterprises.” Whilst building its local
“The bank has consistently positioned its balance sheet to provide attractive savings products for both individuals and corporates, and we view this as a core competency and essential to our continued product offering.”
branch network (currently comprising six branches in Malta and Gozo apart from the head office in Valletta), Mediterranean Bank also invested in a state-of-the-art technology platform which supports the local offering and has enabled it to build its international business. “The bank has consistently positioned its balance sheet to provide attractive savings products for both individuals and corporates, and we view this as a core competency and essential to our continued product offering,” Mr Watson explains. In doing so, Mediterranean Bank has significantly broadened its product offering
Photos by Alan Carville
in recent years, primarily through the availability of low cost execution platforms supporting local and international financial products combined with transparent and understandable financial planning tools that serve the bank’s growing customer base. Moreover, within the last two years, Mediterranean Bank has further expanded its international business through the opening of online bank MeDirect in Belgium. “Initially this was set up as a branch of the Maltese bank but we are very pleased to announce that this has been awarded a full Belgian banking license and now operates as a subsidiary, focusing on online savings and wealth management products, again, for the mass affluent market,” Mr Watson says. Elaborating on the bank’s unique operating model, he explains that its entire support functionality, including IT, Finance, Human Resources, Operations, Client Support and Processing is hosted in Malta, with only the Chief Officers of MeDirect represented physically in Belgium. In this way, the international bank operates with just 10 personnel stationed within the host country, while leveraging MedBank’s Maltese operating capabilities. “We believe this is a very efficient and scalable business model,” Mr Watson affirms, explaining, “both Maltese and Belgian businesses are supported by a London operating subsidiary where we employ international analytical capability which is not available in the local market, and we believe this business model provides us SEPTEMBER 2015
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with a competitive advantage in the areas we choose to operate in, both locally and internationally.” Meanwhile, the local business has been further supported by two important acquisitions. “Earlier on, we purchased 65 per cent of Charts Investment Services, the leading sponsor in the Maltese corporate broking market, and we have recently purchased the remaining 35 per cent of the shares and are fully integrating their operating platform in the Mediterranean Bank family,” Mr Watson explains. The second acquisition comes in the form of Volksbank Malta, which the bank SEPTEMBER 2015
purchased last year, and, according to Mr Watson, “enabled us to create Mediterranean Corporate Bank and become Malta’s first specialised corporate lending business, which we are combining with Mediterranean Bank’s corporate client base and Charts Corporate broking capabilities.” Certainly, growth for Mediterranean Bank has been robust over the last five years, seeing it go from a start-up entity in 2009 boasting just six employees to Malta’s third largest bank after being reclassified as a core domestic bank earlier this year, with over 260 employees and a €2.7 billion balance sheet.
Asked where the bank’s primary strength lies, Mr Watson points to its unique business model, affirming, “because of the core use of technology, it enables us to scale our product offering for the local and international market.” This scalability, through the volume it creates, enables the bank to deliver high quality products at an attractive price point. It is this which he considers to be its biggest differentiator in a competitive market, both in Malta and in Belgium. “It is important to note that we do not aspire to be a universal retail bank but rather focus on a smaller number of products that we deliver in a superior way,” he continues. As for what Mediterranean Bank specifically has to offer local businesses, Mr Watson asserts that through the creation of Mediterranean Corporate Bank, Malta now has a business-focused bank which is combining the bank’s traditional strength in cash management, payments, foreign exchange and treasury services with a local lending capability that provides tailor-made solutions for medium and larger scale businesses through the combination of their international and local expertise. “We believe we have a highly competitive offering in our savings rates, payments services, our FX offering and the transparency and accessibility our technology platform affords,” he adds. Having joined the bank in 2009 when the deal to purchase and recapitalise the existing entity was put together, Mr Watson maintains that he was looking for an entrepreneurial challenge – and got it. “It is very exciting to take a business from nothing to where we are today, but more interestingly, to what we can develop in the future. The last five years have enabled us to put in very solid foundations for the business to grow and prosper over the coming years.” Moving forward, the CEO points to the firm establishment of MeDirect within the Belgian market as critical for 2015. “We are perceived as a highly innovative entrant to the Belgian savings, wealth management and financial planning market, and we want to continue to build on the exciting start that we have experienced. We have significant work streams locally with the development of MedCorp, and progressing our local online platform to the standard of MeDirect,” he says. Furthermore, while the bank’s capital base has grown organically over the last few years, Mr Watson asserts that as the company looks further into 2015, there is a possibility of raising further international capital to support its ongoing expansion. “Looking into the future, we believe the platform that we have created can support further jurisdictions, and by ensuring the robustness of our capabilities, this will be an exciting avenue to develop,” the CEO concludes. cc 35
CC WOMEN IN Business
At the top of their game The number of women occupying top positions in companies across different sectors in Malta remains discouragingly low. For these women, however, the sky is the limit. Martina Said speaks to eight women in the fields of marketing, real estate, shipping, financial services, fashion and more who are leading by example.
Dame Jane Chircop
Charlotte Sharon Sullivan Camilleri
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CEO at Engel & Völkers Sara Grech Malta in 1985. It didn’t matter to me that I was working out of a second-floor apartment in a side street in Sliema, with no financial backing. I just threw everything I had into the venture and secured home owners to deal with me. That sense of fun, enjoyment and purpose turned into success, and my interest and concern for people ensured I was never short of motivation, just short of cash.
What attracted you to your line of work and what kept you motivated? I got into real estate with the aim of working for a year or two before returning to the United States where I had studied for 10 years. Once I took on the role of an agent, I enjoyed it so much that I decided it was the career I wanted to pursue. I was determined to prove myself when I started Sara Grech
What do you find attractive about the role you occupy in your business, considering it is one many associate with males? I enjoy my role today mostly because I create opportunity for others. Real estate was and still is a male-dominated industry. Unfortunately, there are no other female leaders in this industry and I have encountered obstacles just because I am a woman. My advice to other women, however, is to control what you can control, work hard, follow your instincts, stay true to who you are and focus on being fair, and things will work out. I am a thinker, and I push everyone around me to believe in themselves and be their best. I am a leader, who can see the potential in others and I am also direct and outspoken, which is what most leaders are. But people can look at a woman who is direct
and outspoken as being aggressive or maybe pushy, which is certainly not true. I, however, do not let that get to me and I encourage all other women to do the same. Do you feel there are misconceptions that discourage women from entering your field? There certainly are. I have tried hard to encourage women to enter real estate and many have been successful. However once they get married or have children, their productivity slackens and they feel they cannot carry on with the role. They give in too quickly to male demands. A final word… My dream is to create more wealth for ambitious youngsters. I am dedicated to sharing everything I have learnt and I’m setting out on establishing an internal academy. It’s not only about hitting the magic number, but more about how to retain the money they earn and build wealth. There are no shortcuts to success, only hard work executed relentlessly in pursuit of a goal. That said, it isn’t just about working hard. You have to work hard on the right thing, be generous and never stop learning.
Director at Emma Diacono Ltd What attracted you to your line of work and what kept you motivated? I believe that marketing is essentially a management philosophy and is not simply about campaigns. Getting involved with different companies, understanding their challenges and where they wish to be, and working with different people and teams is what I love most about what we do. What do you find attractive about the role you occupy in your business, considering it is one many associate with males? I love working with people and enjoy the challenge that engaging with different people presents. Leading a team is not an easy task. In the same way that individualism has shaped the marketing and communications world today, each member of the team needs to be treated and managed differently. It is in understanding what makes someone tick, what motivates them to give their best that we can get the job done in our line of work. It is only if my team are completely on board and hold both the company as well as the task at hand to heart that I can have peace of mind that we will deliver on our promise. In understanding these subtleties, although it’s a personal characteristic, sometimes women 38
may actually be at an advantage. Do you feel there are misconceptions that discourage women from entering your field? Starting up on your own and running a company is very time-consuming and taxing. Being a working mother myself, I can appreciate that at times it is really hard to balance things as the company almost becomes another ‘baby’ that needs your attention, but it is not impossible. There is a good support system in place and Malta’s size and family dynamics, in most cases, make it even easier. I am very lucky – when I started my family, I worried about how our clients would react, but I was pleasantly surprised. At the end of the day it is a personal choice – if you want to do something you will find a way to make it work. It should not be about men and women. What aspects of your field do you find to be the most challenging and rewarding? We all talk about how marketing has completely changed over the years, however, whilst the platforms may have evolved, the fundamental principles remain the same.
PR and communications campaigns often address the needs of the enterprise through ‘inside-out’ one-way messaging initiatives – what do we want to say as opposed to what do they want or what do they think of us. Essentially, whatever the medium, we need to look at things with an ‘outside-in’ perspective. In our role, this presents us with another challenge – we need to consider the sensitivity needed to manage the client, especially when as marketers it is our duty to present things from the outside-in, which is not necessarily the same view as the business owners may have. SEPTEMBER 2015
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BA(Hons) Accty., Dip. Tax., FIA, CPA, DipPMI, MIM, MBA (Henley)
Managing Director at STM Malta Trust and Company Management Ltd What attracted you to your line of work and what kept you motivated? I graduated from the University of Malta with Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Accountancy in 1994. The areas of financial services and managing a business always fascinated me and, in 2002, I obtained a Masters in Business Administration pursued with Henley Management College, UK. I started my career with senior finance roles in companies operating in a number of industries. In these roles, I concentrated on the company’s strategy and objectives, however also ensuring that the finance function is facilitating matters for the organisation to realise its strategy and objectives. As my career progressed I was entrusted with senior managerial roles, and that of Managing Director was the natural next step in my career. Using a skill set to accomplish a set of objects that will contribute positively to a firm’s growth and performance has always been a motivator in my various roles. What do you find attractive about the role you occupy in your business, considering it is one many associate with males? I am responsible for the performance of
the company as dictated by the board’s overall strategy. This entails formulating and successfully implementing company policy, directing strategy towards the profitable growth and operation of the company, developing strategic operating plans that reflect the longer-term objectives and putting in place adequate operational planning and financial control systems. I find the application of such skills an attractive part of my job. My feeling is that a glass ceiling exists if you allow it. Do you feel there are misconceptions that discourage women from entering your field? While there is no doubt that unconscious bias and that prejudice against women still exist in the workplace today, the bigger barrier holding women from increasing their influence is not a glass ceiling but a glass cage of their own making (albeit not consciously). My advice for women to succeed in taking on entrepreneurial roles: unleash your ambition, know your value, don’t lead from the crowd, be willing to rock the boat, refuse to tolerate the intolerable and embrace risk as it is crucial to your success. A final word… STM Malta operates in the international
pensions industry, which is a new industry for Malta. In my role I felt it was important to obtain the necessary technical skills in this area of specialisation, that is, pensions. I hold a Diploma in Retirement Provision pursued with the UK Pensions Management Institute, and am the only Maltese resident with such a qualification in pensions. Also, this year I won the Malta’s Best Knowledge Entrepreneur of the Year Award, 2015, which is pleasing on a personal and professional level. Therefore, I believe if you are passionate about something and you work hard, then you will be successful.
Chief Operations Officer of the Business Development Unit at Mediterranean Insurance Brokers in recent years, I was increasingly involved with financial services, corporate services and gaming companies. From a clerk doing inputting and administrative work, to a broker and then an account executive designing insurance programmes for my clients, I was motivated by the diversity of the roles I occupied. Throughout my work experience I continued to study – three years ago, I obtained a Specialist Certificate in Risk Management for Financial Services (SIRM), which gave me better knowledge to assist my clients, which are ever-evolving nowadays. What attracted you to your line of work and what kept you motivated? I always wanted to work in an office or a bank but never particularly on insurance. Around 25 years ago, during the course at the Secretarial School, now MCAST, an opportunity arose and I applied for a scholarship in insurance. On graduation day, I was approached to start working with MIB and I started as a clerk within the Reinsurance Department. The company gave me the opportunity to work in different areas and be more hands-on in the servicing of local corporate clients. The corporate element kept me interested and SEPTEMBER 2015
What do you find attractive about the role you occupy in your business, considering it is one many associate with males? I’ve often worked in departments that were all-male, which gave me the necessary training to occupy management and executive roles that are mainly occupied by men, especially in our industry. Currently, I am the only female in Executive Management and on the Board of Directors at MIB, but it never crossed my mind that this will make a difference to clients. As long as you are prepared on the subject at hand, gender is not an issue. Women negotiate in a different way to men, and sometimes,
without being hard-liners we achieve solutions much faster. Do you feel there are misconceptions that discourage women from entering your field? When I started in this industry, there were very few women especially in management roles. Women used to work within the secretarial departments as typists and receptionists, however, the insurance industry was always open to women. I think the problem with women occupying higher roles in all fields is that most of the time they want to work reduced hours once they have children, and this puts them at a disadvantage. Such executive roles occupy a lot of your time and this may be discouraging, but you can achieve a good work/life balance, and this should encourage all women. A final word… I encourage women to be motivated and grow within their respective fields. A new NGO which I form part of will soon be launched, and I invite all women who aspire to move onto the next level in their career to keep an eye and ear out. 41
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Director at Dorkins/Fashions Ltd when I confirmed an agreement with Arkadia group, leading to the opening of Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Wallis, Topshop and Topman. We went on to succeed in the opening of Clarks shoe store in Sliema and then Valletta, and among the opening of these new stores, we also reached agreements with OVS, which is a family-oriented fashion outlet, and Marella, which is part of Max Mara Group and the leader of Italy’s top-end fashion. The most recent additions to our portfolio are CR7, the fashion line of shirts and accessories by Cristiano Ronaldo for which we have distributorship for Malta, and Superdry, a world-renowned top fashion brand. The continuous momentum gathered from all these achievements has motivated myself as well as our employees to reach even bigger goals.
What attracted you to your line of work and what kept you motivated? I had always been interested in the fashion industry, and reached my first goal when I opened an exclusive boutique in Sliema way back in 1988. I reached my next milestone
What do you find attractive about the role you occupy in your business, considering it is one many associate with males? The fact that I view my ‘occupation’ as a passion, rather than something that I have to do forcefully, is what I love about it the most. This allows me to involve myself fully in all aspects of the business, which also gives me a heightened attention to detail.
Do you feel there are misconceptions that discourage women from entering your field? Not really, as it depends mostly on one’s own determination, self-discipline and commitment. Also, my PA and Head of Purchasing for most of the fashion brands are female, as well as almost all of our store managers, meaning that opportunities are there for those who seek them. What aspects of your field do you find to be the most challenging and rewarding? One of the most challenging is convincing prominent brands to open on such a small island, therefore each new store opening brings with it a level of satisfaction. Finding the right location is also challenging, and paramount to success. Although the position does bring its fair share of responsibilities, I know that I can trust all of my employees to do their job to the best of their capabilities, whilst achieving successful results. A final word… Always think ‘yes, I can’, never be afraid of a challenge, keep your feet firmly on the ground and maintain passion for what you do.
Dame Jane Chircop
Founder and Director at Sapphire Real Estate Services What attracted you to your line of work and what kept you motivated? I’ve dreamt of selling and showing properties with beautiful architecture and style since I was young, especially historical and heritage private homes for restoration, but I also wanted my own business. I studied business and accounts at school, but due to a lack of opportunities in the field at the time, I became a nurse and spent 14 years in this profession. I eventually pursued my dream and made it happen, and every day I do my best to be more creative, positive and innovative, as much as I did on the first day of my career in real estate. What do you find attractive about the role you occupy in your business, considering it is one many associate with males? Acquiring a property is much more than buying bricks and mortar, and I ensure to apply my social skills and add a human touch to everything I do. Buying and selling a house involves an exchange of emotions between the buyers and sellers, and in the end you want a win-win situation for both parties. This is a quality I believe that women are gifted with.
Do you feel there are misconceptions that discourage women from entering your field? This is not a misconception, it is a real fact. The majority of women who decide to start up their own business or entrepreneurial venture encounter a lot of hardships and hurdles, which discourage women from pursuing their goals.
encourage all women who have a business idea to follow their dream – women are gifted and have the ability to juggle all aspects of life, which they can use in business.
What aspects of your field do you find to be the most challenging and rewarding? You encounter a range of challenges which, once solved, turn into rewards. For instance, when you are creative and innovative in your approach and try to explain your business ideas to private or public entities, you often encounter obstacles but must continue to be positive to reach your goal and be successful. Certain calculated risks must be taken if you want to focus on your vision. That said, bureaucracy is one of the biggest challenges that I find is always a set-back – time is money in this industry and bureaucracy kills business. A final word… If you focus on your vision, step by step, slowly but surely you will reach the top and can look ahead towards your next innovative idea. I
CC WOMEN IN Business
Director at F.E. Sullivan & Co. Ltd & Mediterranean Trading Shipping Co. Ltd What attracted you to your line of work and what kept you motivated? I joined the family business in 1981 when I finished school. I felt it was my duty to carry on the family legacy in shipping, which my ancestors had started and passed on. Keeping the company on the international map is what kept me motivated. What do you find attractive about the role you occupy in your business, considering it is one many associate with males? Apart from being the Financial Director of Mediterranean Trading Shipping Co. Ltd and F.E. Sullivan & Co. Ltd, I have an active role in the operational side of the business too. This is what I find to be the most challenging, as it keeps me involved in the implementation of various projects that our clients entrust us with. I work with males most of the time, but this does not discourage me at all. However, in the past, I admit women were not as involved, and I did not have the same freedom to work and express myself around males as easily as I do nowadays. Do you feel there are misconceptions that discourage women from entering your field? The first thing that comes to mind when
one mentions shipping is heavy industry associated with seamen, cargo and large machinery mainly run by men. This may cause misconceptions and discourage women from entering this exciting field. However, health and safety regulations these days, as well as other security measures, have helped to improve and minimise risk and danger, which should make women feel safer to work in this field. What aspects of your field do you find to be the most challenging and rewarding? Working in this business keeps you alert to any changes going on locally or internationally, be they economic, political, disease outbreaks or conflicts going on in other countries. Every change in any part of a continent could affect the shipping industry, and we are forced to abide with revised regulations and adapt to ongoing changes. I find this and the implementation of these changes very challenging. On the other hand, receiving customer feedback for good service and recurring customers are what make it all rewarding. A final word… I strongly believe that in this day and age, the
all-important factor in an individual is his/ her ability to tackle the work, irrespective of gender. Apart from my responsibilities at the family shipping business, I have recently ventured into the restaurant business, which entailed the restoration of an iconic sight in Valletta overlooking the Grand Harbour, called The Harbour Club. Although it is also demanding, I am finding it very interesting and rewarding.
Director at Burmarrad Commercials Ltd
What attracted you to your line of work and what kept you motivated? My father started Burmarrad Commercials Ltd 30 years ago and I was by his side since I was little, while he met clients and negotiated to buy stock or property. I always aspired to follow in his footsteps. What motivates me is the support I get from my business partners, my father and siblings, which encourages me to diversify and grow this business further. Also, our team is very dedicated and we try SEPTEMBER 2015
our best to motivate each member as much as possible.
it would definitely be much harder to juggle personal and professional obligations.
What do you find attractive about the role you occupy in your business, considering it is one many associate with males? Being a female doesn’t make you inferior to males. It was hard at the early stages of my career since I started at the age of 16, after completing secondary education. I started my career in the lowest ranks and gradually took on the responsibilities of my present position which, as director, include vehicle purchasing, sales, leasing and business development.
What aspects of your field do you find to be the most challenging and rewarding? The challenge is that we always aim higher and are always working to improve the services we offer. The market is becoming more and more competitive and clients are becoming more demanding. We take our job very seriously and won’t settle for second best. What’s most rewarding is the positive feedback we receive from our clients, and the reputation we managed to build over the last 30 years, thanks to my father and siblings Maria Gauci and Mario Gauci Jr.
Do you feel there are misconceptions that discourage women from entering your field? I believe that if you are willing to work and are passionate about your career, then it’s easy to gain confidence and trust from clients, colleagues and business partners. In our company, my sister, Maria Gauci, and I run different departments, and gained the respect of our team of over 50 employees (mostly male) and clients alike. We are both working mothers and have great support from our mother who takes care of our children. That is a big advantage, because if it weren’t for her,
A final word… Working in a family business is a challenge and a treasure at the same time. Both business and pleasure are always experienced in the company of my family, while respecting each other’s privacy. We also value everyone’s hard work. A business should never stop – Burmarrad Commercials owes its success to our commitment to customer service and quality, our unwavering passion for the business and respect for one another. cc 45
Trade Malta “focused on supporting companies to expand operations overseas” Martina Said meets Trade Malta CEO Anton Buttigieg to discuss his priorities for the coming months, the reason behind the setting up of Trade Malta, and how it can tangibly help businesses take their products or services to an international level.
he prospect of taking a local business venture beyond our shores could be as daunting as it is exciting, and a national entity, which is a joint venture between the Government of Malta and the Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry was recently established to help companies do just that. Trade Malta, which started its operations in June this year, is focused on supporting companies to grow their business and expand their operations outside of Malta. Trade Malta CEO Anton Buttigieg says their support extends to all Malta-based companies, and not just Maltese companies. “Through this we are referring to foreign companies that are based in Malta and have an operational base here, and we usually look into how our support can help them create more jobs in the future, besides supporting their internationalisation efforts.” Mr Buttigieg explains that, from the outset, one company’s internationalisation efforts may differ slightly or drastically to those of another company, and for this reason, Trade Malta classifies companies for internationalisation into three different categories. “There’s the company that is only just beginning to consider exporting its products or services, the company with mixed experience in exporting and a background of dealing with one or two markets, and the mature exporter that has been exporting for a number of years in several markets. Each category requires a different level of support, and we are looking to cater for all three categories,” he explains. Until recently, such efforts were handled by Malta Enterprise, and in order for this area of business development to be given more due attention, the Malta Chamber approached Government with the idea of setting up Trade Malta, which Government was receptive to. “Government and the Chamber drew a joint venture agreement which resulted in Trade Malta being registered as a limited liability company. We also took over the administration of the internationalisation incentives schemes that were previously within the remit of Malta Enterprise.” Trade Malta is currently in the process of formulating a strategy on ways in which to support companies in their internationalisation efforts. “We’ve had
Photos by Alan Carville
“For one company within a particular sector, a trade mission might be best, while another may require support on a marketing level. One size definitely does not fit all in our case.” 47
“We are currently organising two missions: the first one will be to Turkey in September, and the other to Algeria in November.” a positive response since launching, at an operational level, and we are trying to ensure there is a smooth transition since taking the reins from Malta Enterprise. We are not starting from scratch but building on past successes as well. However, we would like to go beyond that by tailoring specific support for companies in different sectors based on the feedback we receive from clients, as each company, and especially each sector, will require something different,” says Mr Buttigieg. He offers an example: “companies within the ICT and manufacturing industries will need to be approached differently. We will need to sit down with each company and understand its needs as an operator within an industry, in order for us to gain insight and develop demand-driven support.” Mr Buttigieg continues that, like any other business that requires feedback from its customers in order to improve its product 48
offering, Trade Malta too will rely on its customers’ feedback. “For one company within a particular sector, a trade mission might be best, while another may require support on a marketing level. One size definitely does not fit all in our case.” On a more practical level, Trade Malta begins its exchange with a company by holding a meeting and laying out its recommendations. “This could include a training programme, attending or participating in a fair or any of the new services we plan to offer over the next few months, which should be appealing to various companies irrespective of where they stand in their internationalisation efforts. As part of our remit, we organise trade missions to various markets, usually attended by a mixed bag of companies that join us with the intention of exploring that market.” Such a trade mission would include B2B
meetings, the exchange of information and visits to business parks for a better feel and understanding of that market, which is best suited for companies still in the early stages of their internationalisation operations. “These trade missions are generally followed up by another visit some months later once potential to do business is established. We are currently organising two missions: the first one will be to Turkey in September, and the other to Algeria in November,” asserts Mr Buttigieg. “Apart from issuing an expression of interest for companies to join us on trade missions, we also organise country seminars and invite natives to give a business perspective of their country, alongside a Maltese company which can share a direct experience in that market with the audience. These seminars are open to anyone interested in the market, even if they are not joining a delegation or trade mission.” SEPTEMBER 2015
“There is no company I can concretely say we cannot help without having met its representatives. In fact, there are various companies across different sectors that, irrespective of their size, are doing an extremely good job at internationalisation.”
Asked whether some sectors stand a better chance than others at taking their product or service overseas, Mr Buttigieg says that Trade Malta is very open in its approach, and will sit down with anyone who reaches out to it. “There is no company I can concretely say we cannot help without having met its representatives. In fact, there are various companies across different sectors that, irrespective of their size, are doing an extremely good job at internationalisation. If anything, we need to support smaller companies further to penetrate new markets or increase the volume of their turnover. We have met, over these two and half months, small IT companies that have no sales or revenue generation from Malta, and are generating sales exclusively in foreign markets. So we believe there is a lot of potential here and, in this business, I do not think that size matters at all.” To this end, however, Mr Buttigieg says that internationalisation is not for everyone. “It is certainly for those who believe they have a good enough product or service and are willing to dedicate a lot of time to try and sell it beyond Malta,” he asserts, adding that there needs to be commitment and willingness from the executive team running a company as it is no easy task. “We obviously encourage companies to meet us, but we tell them from the outset what they should expect. Efforts to internationalise constitute lots of visits to meet potential clients before even getting a contract, which is very time consuming and requires a budget too. Although we offer financial support through a number of incentives, Trade Malta only offers part-financing.” The team at Trade Malta is setting its sights on several international markets, even beyond Europe’s borders. “While we cannot ignore Europe – it is still our largest trading partner – we have to look ahead and keep a watchful eye on a number of emerging markets to possibly replicate our success there. We will do our homework and decide which ones to tap into,” says Mr Buttigieg. “Having said that, however, it does not mean that we cannot support companies that want to penetrate a SEPTEMBER 2015
particular market.” He says Trade Malta often receives requests from clients asking for advice on a specific market, asking to be introduced to someone in that market, or to intervene on behalf of a company to set up a meeting with a potential client. “There are various ways we can intervene – either by contacting them directly as an agency, by using the network of the Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, or through our extensive network of consulates and embassies that have been very receptive to the idea of Trade Malta.”
Looking ahead, Mr Buttigieg outlines his priorities as CEO of Trade Malta for the coming months and beyond – “primarily, the formulation of a strategy, defining priority sectors we would like to support; the application for an EU-funded project which I believe will give additional incentive and budget to Trade Malta to support companies at a wider level; and the launch of our online portal which will serve as exposure for local companies that are already internationalising, and be useful for them in their efforts in this regard.” cc 51
CC meet the artist
A craftsman at work His body of work is a genuine reflection of the immense capabilities he possesses as a painter, sculptor and printmaker. Jesmond Vassallo talks to Martina Said about his experience of living in Italy and of interning at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection museum in Venice, and why he chooses to work the way the old masters did. Photos by Alan Carville
‘Wied il-Ghasel’, 2015. Oil on canvas, 50x70cm (private collection in Rome)
t was clear to me early on that I wanted to focus my studies on visual language,” says Jesmond Vassallo, a painter, sculptor and printmaker, who discovered he had an aptitude for drawing during his formative years at school. He went on to attend evening classes with ceramist Tony Briffa, while also attending evening classes at the school of art, which he describes as a fundamental first step in his journey, followed by a History of Art degree at the University of Malta, which he completed in order to be able to attend an art academy in Italy immediately after. “I packed my bags and moved to Ravenna, where I spent three months, but the school was very avant-garde and not at all what I was after, so I relocated to Carrara in Tuscany, which is a world-renowned centre for sculpture. It was ideal for me.” He says the degree offered a good foundation for him, it sharpened his eyes and taught him how to select the best exhibitions and museums to attend. However, at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Carrara, he learnt the importance of drawing; a lesson which resonates throughout his entire career. “This was especially important for sculpting – you cannot spend a length of time working on a sculpture, then abandon it because you had a bad drawing. Drawing was given extreme
importance. I also studied anatomy, history of art and printmaking.” Jesmond completed his studies in 2005 after four years, and shortly after earned an internship at the prestigious Peggy Guggenheim Collection museum in Venice. “I produced a lot of sketches based on what I saw at the museum throughout the few months I interned there, and went on to put together an exhibition at the GermanMaltese Circle based on those sketches, showcasing 32 prints on Venice and various aspects of it.” He hosted his first independent exhibition, Semantics, in 1997, and frequently exhibited in collaborative exhibitions with fellow artists, including Bodies in 2007 – a drawings exhibition with works by himself, Gilbert Calleja and Robert Zahra, which he considers to be a highlight so far. Jesmond’s stint at the Guggenheim in fact marked the continuation of his career, and was an experience which he describes as “mind-opening”. “It exposed me to masterworks of cubism, futurism, European and American abstraction and surrealism. The best part was being exposed to works by Brancusi, Boccioni, Medardo Rosso, Marino Marini, Rothko, Giacometti and Francis Bacon. This enabled me to compare it to other museums in Venice – the Ca’ Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art, which exhibits works
by Rodin, Manzù and Klimt among others and is one of the most beautiful museums in Italy, receives far fewer visitors than the Guggenheim, and you realise that it’s not just about the exhibitions, but about how they are marketed too.” Jesmond adds that the experience of living in Venice was of great significance SEPTEMBER 2015
CC meet the artist
“I am attracted to some form of story-telling, and that has to come through in my work.”
“A piece which looks simple might have taken me two years to complete, because I would work on it, then leave it to see whether it works or not, and go back to it.” SEPTEMBER 2015
Above top ‘Quattro Castella, Emilia’, March 2015. Oil on wood, 26x35cm Above centre ‘Wied il-Ghasel’, 2015. Oil on canvas, 40x50cm Above ‘Pioggia’, 2015. Oil on wood, 35x50cm
CC meet the artist
‘Sorelline’ sketch, January 2015, Turin, indelible marker on paper
‘My Father’, Carrara, 2003. Bronze, edition of 2
to him – it is where he made connections, and spent a lot of time with Diego Candido Cattarin, a printer for other printmakers. “He taught me a lot about other printmakers in this field, about the old masters who painted the old way, without trying to shock. He directed me towards works of Luigi Tito, Cheschin and others, the real craftsmen and painters still working and during my time there, I strived to build relationships with people who I admire.” He sought to do this with local artists too, such as Antoine Camilleri, Gabriel Caruana, Ray Pitre and Esprit Barthet. He would visit their studio and get to know them personally, and seek to understand how they work, beyond what you see at exhibitions. “I also did this in Carrara, where I got to visit a number of artists’ studios, namely of Finotti, Bodini, Vangi and Guadagnucci. Earlier this year, I visited the Foundation of the late Giacomo Manzù, who is another artist I greatly admire. I managed to contact his wife after seeing his works, I met her and she let me into their home, which was a very prestigious experience for me.” His curiosity to dabble in different media and techniques arose at different stages of his journey. Jesmond says he had never tried working with bronze before moving to Italy. He singles out an impressively accurate sculpture of a hand on one of his 54
‘Sorelline’ lithograph, July 2015. Edition of 40 handprinted prints by Edizioni il Feltro, Roma, 40x60cm
many work benches in his large, brightly-lit studio, which was first moulded with clay. “In Carrara, the courses were varied, but the fundamentals were drawing, anatomy and modelling in clay.” Jesmond also had the opportunity to apply some of the techniques
he learnt in sculpture to a commission using blown glass, which was a first for him, and certainly a technique he wants to pursue further in the future. Asked to identify his favourite technique, Jesmond struggles to pick one, but likens drawing to coffee in the morning – an absolute must for him. “Drawing is the most important aspect for me and I can do it anywhere.” He grabs a small, pocket-sized sketchbook and flips through the pages, which are filled with spontaneous depictions of things he sees in front of him at any given moment. “I’ve done some of these on trains, on-site in Gozo – this is Ramla Bay from above, which I then based a painting on. It is a practice I keep clinging onto.” He adds that he is drawn to old masters and their techniques because they add richness and variety to one’s work. “A painter I admire, Balthus, had said it’s important to go back to the origins of painting, which is a craft, then time will tell whether or not the works will stand its test.” Jesmond adds that locally, he is a great admirer of Pawl Carbonaro, both as an artist and as a person, who echoes similar Study of a hand, Carrara, 2004. Bronze, edition of 5
CC meet the artist
Jesmond Vassallo with Inge Manzù, wife of the late Giacomo Manzù and paper conservator (left) Alessia Strozzi
“I got to visit a number of artists’ studios (in Carrara), namely of Finotti, Bodini, Vangi and Guadagnucci. Earlier this year, I visited the Foundation of the late Giacomo Manzù, who is another artist I greatly admire.” sentiments about the importance of going back to the roots of painting. The style Jesmond adopted for his first exhibition was completely abstract, but later moved towards a more figurative one. “My style was never photographic, and although I change the technique, there is always a form of representation, either of the figure, still life or a landscape. I am attracted to some form of story-telling, and that has to come through in my work.” Of all the techniques Jesmond uses in his works, the process used for printmaking is the one that comes across as most laborious, although he says sculpture is more so. It all begins with a copper plate, which is polished and covered in varnish, then drawn on with a fine point and placed in acid which seeps into the grooves that were etched. Over a pretty lengthy period, a template is devised, and prepped with different colour registrations, which is then heated on a hot plate and covered in ink while cotton paper is soaking in water. The final stage involves placing the paper, which is removed from the water, on top of the plate and covered with a blanket, and manually passed through the press. Asked to reveal his greatest challenge as an artist, Jesmond says it lies in creating work which speaks for itself. “A piece which looks simple might have taken me two years to complete, because I would work on it, then leave it to see whether it works or not, and go back to it.” Despite the challenges, he hopes to return to sculpting next year. “I’ve got a piece of marble that has been waiting on me for around 15 years – expenses and lack of time get in the way. A sculpture can take me up to 400 hours to complete and painting and printmaking are giving me the means to finance sculpting,” he says. “The more you experiment, the richer your vocabulary in this visual language.” cc
Jesmond Vassallo will be exhibiting Variations on a Theme at Palazzo Pereira, Valletta, from 21 November to 20 December 2015; Recent Figurative Works at St James Cavalier, Valletta, from 15 January to 14 February 2016; as well as a collective exhibition by Malta Fine Art Printmakers, called iMprint, at St James Cavalier between 23 January and 14 February 2016. ‘Eastern Wind’, 2014. Oil on wood, 25x35cm
CC make the headlines
“The company is well established within the local business community with strategic networks and links in place with all key stakeholders connected to the shipping industry.”
Sullivan Maritime Ltd will be celebrating its 20th anniversary next year whilst preparing itself for future maritime challenges For more than a century, spanning four generations, the Sullivan family has operated and managed various businesses in sectors including shipping, hospitality and finance. Malta’s strategic geographical position and strong maritime tradition, continue to place Sullivan Maritime as the party ‘connecting businesses with the best in maritime services’. Over the years the shipping sector has become synonymous with the Sullivan name, offering an excellent reputation for services both locally as well as worldwide.
Over these years, Sullivan Maritime has placed itself as a strategic business partner to various prestigious and world renowned ship owners and shipping lines operating within the Maltese ports. Ernest E. Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of Sullivan Maritime, says that “the company is well established within the local business community with strategic networks and links in place with all key stakeholders connected to the shipping industry.” Mr Sullivan explains that the success of Sullivan Maritime Ltd is directly tied to his long-standing philosophy as reflected in the mission statement of the company – providing insight into values that drive the business through ‘competence and professionalism of employees’, ‘quality of service at all times’ and ‘customer focus’. Through these concepts, Sullivan Maritime Ltd has been able to build a very particular business partnership with the Grimaldi
Group of Naples now going on to the third generation. Over the past 10 years, Grimaldi Group and Sullivan Maritime have been successful in building a range of RoRo Services linking mainland Europe to Malta (with particular focus from Italy and Sicily). Service improvement has been continuous with the customer and local industry as the focus points. Frequency of services, reliability and just in time concepts, have managed to increase RoRo traffic to/from Malta providing very significant opportunities. The driving concept that has led to the success was ‘every unit counts’ coupled with quality customer services that give clients comfort and reliability. Through its vast experience in this sector, Sullivan Maritime created its own ‘booking system’ – Fastbook that has facilitated customer bookings substantially. The system was awarded the e-Business Award as the best B2B
application by the Malta Communications Authority in 2013. In 2014, Sullivan Maritime was awarded the HSBC TRANSLOG AWARD as the ‘Best Shipping Agency’ in Malta. During the same period, Sullivan Maritime achieved the AEO – Authorized Economic Operator Certification, followed by the FONASBA Quality Standard for Ship Agents and Brokers. Mr Sullivan explains that the company has already embarked on the ‘succession plan for management’ within its ‘pro-active philosophy’ to ensure that the high quality branding of the company is maintained and improved through the new SULLIVAN generation. Flanked by Ernest E. Sullivan MCLT, as the future top leaders at Sullivan Maritime, are his sons, Nigel Sullivan as Senior Executive Commercial and Karl Sullivan BSc (Hons) as Senior Executive within the Business Development Unit. cc
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Fexserv Financial Services celebrate 20 years of operations in Malta at Couvre Porte, Birgu Couvre Porte in Birgu was recently the setting for the celebration by Fexserv Financial Services of the 20th anniversary since setting up their operations in Malta two decades ago. The recently restored Couvre Porte, itself a gateway into the historic city of Vittoriosa, was chosen since it symbolises the ideal venue for a company which today acts as a modern-day gateway to the ever expanding financial services industry in Malta. Besides a multitude of local guests, including clients, agents and staff members, a number of representatives of the foreign partners of Fexserv were present to mark this milestone. As the evening progressed and drew to an end the time came to recall the achievements
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of the organisation through a video presentation and short commemorative speeches by one of the company directors Pa Nolan and the Chairman of Fexserv Tony Zahra. Mr Nolan recalled the early days when he came to Malta together with a colleague from Fexco in Ireland in 1995 to help set up Fexco Malta and assist in the knowledge transfer process to Maltese employees. He went on to thank customers and staff for their loyalty throughout the years. Mr Zahra also recalled the early days and thanked his fellow directors for their sterling support in directing the company to what it is today. He stated that financial services are now among the main pillars of the economy and the future looks bright for this industry. He concluded by hinting that Fexserv will be launching a very exciting new financial service in Malta early next year through which Fexserv will be doubling its present staff complement. Set up as Fexco Malta Ltd in 1995 and rebranded Fexserv Financial Services Ltd in 2010 the company has today grown into one of Malta’s leading specialised financial services companies, offering foreign exchange services including its landmark product Fexserv Travel Money, with more than 100 currencies available, inward and outward bank payments through its
Fexserv General Manager David Borg Hedley, Head of Finance John Giacchino and other staff members of Fexserv cutting the commemorative cake
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NEWS Events & Initiatives
01. No straightforward matter In a press release issued on 12th June, the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry said that the power station guarantee was no straightforward matter. To this end, the Malta Chamber suggested that, in the best interest of the country, all the facts surrounding the issue were made known and interpreted in an objective way. The Chamber made every effort to seek the necessary facts on the matter and in its view, the project in question formed an intrinsic part of Malta’s Energy Plan and the business community deemed a stable and affordable energy supply on the island a matter of prime strategic and economic interest. “The Malta Chamber augurs that the EU Commission interprets the situation in this broad context and takes into account, in its formal position, the security of supply agreement contemplated in the original tender. Indeed, if the Commission gives the necessary clearance, the guarantee provided would be temporary,” the press release concluded.
02. Partner Support Agreement signed between Malta Chamber and HSBC Bank Malta The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and HSBC Bank Malta strengthened their excellent relations through the signing of a Partner Support Agreement. The agreement was signed on 15th June by Malta Chamber President Anton Borg and Michel Cordina, Head of Commercial Banking at HSBC Malta. “HSBC Bank and the Malta Chamber go back a long way,” Mr Borg said. “With HSBC’s assistance over the past years we have carried out valuable work through our Internationalisation Desk, providing demand-driven services, inspired by an ongoing membership profiling exercise. The Malta Chamber’s efforts in this regard have made it possible for its members, especially smaller sized enterprises, to gear up for internationalisation, identifying markets for growth and expanding their reach,” Mr Borg explained.
03. Business Breakfast – Responsible Businesses: A New Approach to CSR MEUSAC, in collaboration with the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and SEPTEMBER 2015
02. Industry and the Malta Business Bureau organised a business breakfast on 18th June titled ‘Responsible Business: A new approach to Corporate Social Responsibility’. The business breakfast formed part of the events organised by MEUSAC for the European Year for Development. In his introduction, Mr André Fenech, Head of Policy at the Malta Chamber explained that thanks to EU support in the last decade, over 18.3 million children were immunised against measles, 13.7 million children had benefitted from primary education and 24.5 million people in developing countries were connected to sanitation facilities. He noted that the developing countries were seeing exponential growth and certain regions in Africa had stabilised over the years. In his welcome speech, Dr Vanni Xuereb, Head of MEUSAC stressed that new paths have to be discovered in order to engage more EU citizens in what the private sector can contribute towards society in general.
04. Malta Chamber proposes MOU with Ministry for Education During a meeting with Minister Evarist Bartolo, Anton Borg reiterated the Malta Chamber’s stance in favour of the principle behind this law, but said that more dialogue was needed in order not to create further injustice instead of reaching the commendable aims of the law. At the same time, Mr Borg expressed that there are some technical issues that continue to hamper a better implementation of the law as highlighted in a Talking Point penned by Mr Borg himself on 18th May. The President also encouraged the Ministry for Education to enter a Memorandum of Understanding with the Malta Chamber. The purpose of this MOU would be to identify the
roles and responsibilities of each party in relation to the implementation of the Framework for the Strategy for Education in Malta 2014-2024 and the Economic Vision for Malta 2014-2020.
05. Visas discussed with Foreign Affairs Minister The Malta Chamber discussed the issuing of Visas for business purposes, especially to Libyan nationals with Minister George Vella. The Malta Chamber had already held talks with the Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Carmelo Abela, about the matter. Anton Borg told Minister Vella that this issue was of utmost importance to several business interests in Malta, especially a number of businesses which made considerable investments in Libya. The meeting also discussed how the Malta Chamber could take an active role in the annual Ambassadors and Consuls gathering in Malta which was scheduled to take place in July as well as the organisation of an event on promoting and supporting business efforts and opportunities in the MENA region.
06. A window onto the future “The world’s economy is on the cusp of a revolution and the business community needs to take heed of the writings on the wall in order to be well equipped to deal with the challenges and welcome the opportunities that this will bring with it,” Reinhold Karner told members of the Malta Chamber at the Exchange Buildings on 18th June. Mr Karner was the main speaker during a talk titled ‘The Digital Business Revolution’, organised by the Malta Chamber in its drive to provide its members with the latest developments in the world of business. 65
Mr Karner said that even though no one can know the future for certain, one can make a detailed analysis of the past, which in turn can provide an estimation of where the economy of the world is going. He said that certain economies no one bothered to consider in the past will be the big players in a few years’ time, and that new technologies which are in their infancy today, will change the game completely tomorrow. Welcoming Mr Karner, President Borg said the Malta Chamber prides itself in being at the forefront of business developments and giving its members the necessary heads-up that will no doubt affect their sectors. The digital business revolution would certainly provide invaluable insights to members’ business endeavours.
07. ‘The Malta Travel & Tourism Services Act – Plans for Reform: Where To?’ In light of the upcoming reforms to ‘The Malta Travel and Tourism Services Act’, the Tourism Business Section Executive Committee organised an information session on Friday 19th June. In his address, Chamber President Anton Borg stated that market dynamics are constantly changing and therefore Malta must ensure that it maintains the momentum it has created over the years and retains its competitive edge by seeking to diversify and reform its existing legal framework. In this regard, Government’s plan to revisit and update the ‘Malta Travel & Tourism Services Act’ to ensure it is in tune with today’s realities was certainly deemed to be a step in the right direction. In particular, Mr Borg said that Malta’s future economic growth should be directed towards building on past successes through the continued optimisation of Malta’s competitive and comparative advantages. George Micallef, consultant to the
Minister for Tourism and keynote speaker of the session, proceeded to deliver a presentation highlighting the object of the envisaged reforms. These included encouraging simplification of processes and procedures, incentivising quality, allowing the development of products in line with market demands as well as to protect and inform consumers.
08. Malta Chamber discusses MCESD restructuring with Minister During a meeting with Minister Helena Dalli, Malta Chamber President Anton Borg expressed the clear need and urgency for the MCESD to be restructured as it should have its own Research and Policy Unit among a string of reforms proposed by a working group which was set up purposely, and to which the Malta Chamber contributed actively. “This reform was of essence, in order for the MCESD to function more efficiently and to meet the needs of today’s socio-economic reality in Malta,” the President said. Mr Borg also discussed the Budget measure obliging companies of more than 20 employees to employ persons with a disability. The President said the Chamber was in favour of the principle of this Budget measure, however there were issues in relation to the implementation of the scheme.
09. Environmental balance “Malta’s environmental policies need to cater for a balance between sustainable development and socio-economic growth,” said David Xuereb, Chairman of the Energy and Environment Committee, in an article that appeared in the Times of Malta on 2nd July. In the article Mr Xuereb argues that the Malta Chamber remains consistent with its position in favour of sustainable development and with its stand in favour of a zero-tolerance policy for development in ODZ land. However, the Malta Chamber is not in favour of any rigid or prescriptive policies that would outright prohibit any development on ODZ land for a predetermined period in the future. “Rather it would recommend that in considering sites for potential investment projects, the authorities would first and foremost seek to exhaust all possibilities in locating such proposals in areas/buildings that have fallen out of use and that are in need of regeneration or redevelopment,” Mr Xuereb said.
06. 10. Government takes heed of Malta Chamber’s recommendations and removes Eco Contribution During an event addressed by Minister Leo Brincat and President of the Malta Chamber Anton Borg, Government announced the removal of the Eco Contribution in favour of the introduction of companies taking responsibility under the WEEE Directive. Mr Borg explained how the Malta Chamber had been following this matter for the past eight years, and it was satisfying to note that the recommendations made by the Chamber were being welcomed by Government. In fact the Malta Chamber made a number of proposals during the consultation period relating to this reform, all of which were being adopted. These included the need for more surveillance of the market, the removal of the capping on the bank guarantee in the case of self-compliant companies, and the need for a political decision on what is referred to as ‘historical waste’.
11. Is your SME ready to succeed? Forming part of the Enterprise Europe Network Consortium, the Malta Chamber launched a series of information sessions with the theme ‘Is your SME Ready to Succeed?’ with the first two taking place at the Malta Chamber in Valletta and at the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST). The information sessions were attended by members and clients of the network interested to learn more about the services being offered by the local Enterprise Europe Network consortium. Brigitte Tanti (Project Coordinator, Malta Enterprise) presented a general overview of the network and its role in the European Commission’s ambitious focus on the improvement and growth of SMEs. The information session came to a conclusion following Lino Mintoff’s (Head – Sectors, Malta Chamber) presentation on one of the main pillars of EEN’s services relating to innovation management. SEPTEMBER 2015
18. 12. Malta Chamber commends direction taken in health services sector investment In a press release issued on 3rd July, the Malta Chamber noted with satisfaction the general direction taken by Government in the new investment in the health services sector, set to take place at the site of the former St Luke’s Hospital. This project was considered favourably as it satisfied a number of criteria given high priority by the Malta Chamber. “As noted on numerous other occasions, the Malta Chamber is in favour of all foreign direct investment, as this is a key factor in Malta’s path towards continued economic growth, which is championed by the Malta Chamber. Moreover, the Malta Chamber welcomes investment which is planned to take place in the health services sector which is one of the 11 sectors identified by the Malta Chamber in its Economic Vision 2014-2020, which are ripe for growth,” the press release noted.
13. Malta Chamber calls for utmost caution “While the rights and health and safety of workers must at all times be safeguarded, the social partners must never lose focus of the country’s competitiveness,” said the Malta Chamber in a press release issued on 8th July. The Malta Chamber stated that it feared that a dangerous precedent may have taken place in the previous days, when operations were interrupted at the Malta Freeport. The press release noted how the Malta Freeport plays a crucial role in the economic cycle of the country and that the interruption of service has adversely affected businesses and consumers alike. Extreme and utmost attention must be paid when dealing with such a sensitive element in the Maltese economy chain as the ports. If repeated, this could result in extremely serious effects on the operation of business in Malta.
14. Malta Chamber contributes to pensions reform The Chamber participated in an MCESD meeting to discuss pension reform following the publication of a consultation document entitled ‘Strengthening the Pension System’. During its intervention, the Malta SEPTEMBER 2015
Chamber explained that its views on the consultation document were generally positive especially in view of the fact that, despite very limited room for manoeuvrability it did not seem to create any shocks to the economy. Indeed, no increases were being contemplated in retirement age or in social security contributions for both employer and employee.
15. Ambassadors told of Malta Chamber’s strategic role President Anton Borg delivered a presentation to Ambassadors and Consuls present at the biannual Resident and Non Resident Ambassadors and Honorary Consuls meeting which was held in Valletta in July. Anton Borg spoke about the important role the Malta Chamber holds in the formulation of policy on a national level. He said that the Malta Chamber actively provides Government with researched and objective opinions about economic matters. The Malta Chamber is a stakeholder on various Government and independent boards including the MCESD, MEUSAC and Trade Malta, as well as a member of a number of international organisations such as Eurochambres, Business Europe and the EESC. Mr Borg said that the Malta Chamber’s Internationalisation Desk was redimensioned following the setting up of Trade Malta, and now runs the Chamber’s Business Council and suggests priority markets to Trade Malta and Government, based on feedback from its members. The President also spoke about the documents the Malta Chamber published, namely ‘An Industrial Policy for Malta’ and ‘An Economic Vision for Malta 20142020’, which aim at providing Government with a business agenda, rather than wait for the administration to come up with a Government agenda for business.
16. Pensions discussed with Opposition “Pensions sustainability must be approached via enhancing national competitiveness and promoting economic growth,” said Director General Kevin J. Borg, while addressing a meeting called by the Nationalist Party with members of the MCESD in the Parliament building.
“This approach promises more and higher value-added jobs for Malta’s workforce which is conducive towards rendering the pensions system more sustainable.” The meeting with the Opposition took place as part of the consultation process following the publication of ‘Strengthening the Pension System’, a consultation document published by Government to welcome feedback on the pending pension reform. During his intervention, Mr Borg explained that the Malta Chamber’s views on the consultation document were generally positive especially in view of the fact that, despite very limited room for manoeuvrability it did not seem to create any shocks to the economy. Indeed, no increases were being contemplated in retirement age or in social security contributions for both employer and employee.
17. Malta Chamber addresses MCESD on R&D The Malta Chamber called a meeting of the MCESD in order to discuss the importance of Research and Development in Malta, with the aim for the Council to adopt a common position on the importance of the subject matter. The position would then be proposed to Government for inclusion in the upcoming Budget for 2016. Addressing the MCESD, President Anton Borg noted the importance of R&D in today’s economic scenario and how a concerted effort by all parties needed to take place in order to convince Government to invest more in this sector which is central to the country’s competitiveness. Head of Policy André Fenech said that a Malta Business Research and Innovation Body needed to be set up, in order to contribute to the research and development process. This would be set up in collaboration with MCAST and other stakeholders.
18. Minister Brincat praises Malta Chamber’s proactive approach In a meeting with the Malta Chamber’s Board of Management, Minister Leo Brincat praised the way the Malta Chamber took a positive and proactive approach by proposing an Economic Vision that would sustain economic growth and promote environmental issues while ensuring the country’s competitiveness. He said that the Malta Chamber provided invaluable feedback during the consultation process related to the WEEE reform, rendering the process so successful that he proposed it should be 69
taken as an exemplary blueprint of how consultation should be carried out. The Board of Management met Minister Brincat as part of a series of meetings that the Malta Chamber is holding with leading authorities and decision-makers of the country, in order to advocate the implementation of the 52 recommendations within the Economic Vision for Malta 2014-2020.
19. Information Session on Eco Contribution The Malta Chamber, in collaboration with Green Pak Coop Society Ltd, organised a well-attended information session about the amendments to the Eco Contribution Act and Waste Management Regulations that transposed the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. The event was opened by Kevin J. Borg, who explained that the Malta Chamber had welcomed the decision to reform the current system and had constantly been doing so since 2007. He said that the Chamber had already stated in public that it was very satisfied to note that the vast majority of its feedback during the recent consultation on this subject was taken on board by the authorities and that the organisation believed that the country now had a framework on which companies can follow their legal obligations in the same way that their counterparts in all the other 27 EU member states have done before.
20. Changes to maternity leave laws come into effect Kevin J. Borg attended a press conference during which Finance Minister Edward Scicluna and Social Dialogue Minister Helena Dalli announced changes to maternity leave laws. The changes provide for the creation of a Trust Fund out of which maternity leave would be paid to
19. workers. By means of these developments, employers would contribute 0.3 per cent of all their employees’ wages, irrespective of their gender to finance the fund. The Malta Chamber noted with satisfaction that most recommendations it had made during the consultation process were taken on board. These changes would be instrumental to reduce discrimination at recruitment stage as they helped from the financial aspect of matters.
21. MIP’s renewed readiness to support local industry Malta Industrial Parks CEO Joshua Zammit was invited to give a presentation to members of the Malta Chamber on 28th July. Norman Aquilina, Chairman of the Manufacturing Economic Group (MEG), informed the members about the priority initiatives being undertaken by MEG’s Executive Board in his first address to the members since being appointed Chairman. Mr Aquilina presented the scope of initiatives of the Board, namely the efforts to safeguard and promote the competitiveness of Malta’s manufacturing industry, the acclaimed launch of the ‘Industrial Policy for Malta’ and the drive to implement its 64 tangible recommendations. Mr Zammit delivered a two-part presentation, firstly on the details relating to the three types of contracts issued by MIP namely, encroachment agreements, lease agreements and emphyteutical deeds and, secondly, on the proposed way forward to maintain and manage the industrial parks.
22. TIME magazine interviews Malta Chamber President The Malta Chamber was once again invited to participate in a custom project on Malta, coordinated by Business Outlook for the British Isles edition of TIME magazine. Anton Borg gave an interview to Melissa Lamb on the endeavours of the Malta Chamber and its aspirations for the future. The President illustrated the Malta Chamber’s view on the current economic situation in Malta and how businesses are faring. He noted that the economy is doing well, yet the Chamber remains adamant that the country still needs to keep competitiveness as a top priority in order
to safeguard future economic growth. He said that the country needs to address a new challenge – a skills gap which was materialising for a number of sectors, due to extremely encouraging growth trends. Mr Borg also spoke about the operation of the Chamber and the strategic role it holds with regard to policy development and consultation with Government.
23. Boosting Youth Entrepreneurship supported by Malta Chamber President Anton Borg addressed the launch of ‘Boosting Youth Entrepreneurship in Malta and the European Union’, a document which was prepared by MEP Miriam Dalli with the collaboration of the Malta Chamber and student organisation AEGEE. In his address Mr Borg said that the Malta Chamber believed in this project from the start as it sheds light on a number of issues which are central to encouraging young entrepreneurship. These include access to finance, a change in the culture of entrepreneurship, education and the need for more collaboration between educational institutions and the business world – all these issues are shared by the Malta Chamber and it is encouraging to learn that they are being bolstered at MEP level. Focusing on one specific recommendation, the Malta Chamber particularly welcomed the proposal to include entrepreneurship in the syllabus of primary and secondary schools. The Malta Chamber has been promoting this matter for a number of years because it believes that entrepreneurship should be offered to students as a career path in the same way other careers are.
24. Meeting between Malta Chamber, MEA and ETC officials to discuss Employment of Persons with Disability A meeting was held between representatives of the Malta Chamber, the Malta Employers’ Association and the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) to discuss pending issues concerning the implementation of the measures announced during the last budget to address the employment of persons with disability. This meeting followed an information SEPTEMBER 2015
payment aspects of the issue. The Minister explained how the fund is to be established and run, and how payments shall take place.
25. session held on 30th July between ETC and company representatives during which the mechanics of the new regulations were discussed. Progress was registered and further meetings are planned in the coming weeks to seek a common understanding which will safeguard employers’ interests and concurrently promote the employment of disabled persons.
25. Appreciation – Charles Camilleri The President and Council of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry extended their deepest condolences to the family of Charles Camilleri who passed away on 7th August aged 60. Mr Camilleri was a respected entrepreneur and member of the Malta Chamber who contributed to the economic development of the country throughout his career. A stalwart of the local retail community, he excelled in promoting the sector to new heights. Mr Camilleri will be remembered as an institution in his home town Valletta where his name and associated brand have grown to represent a permanent fixture in the social fibre of the capital city. As a member of the Malta Chamber, Mr Camilleri fulfilled his duty to the end, to the extent of voting at the last Malta Chamber elections last March. His sense of duty was unequalled, and he refused to let his prolonged suffering get in his way. The Malta Chamber Council and staff express their sincerest sympathy to his family at this time.
26. ‘Limiting the Use of Cash’ Information Session The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry organised an information session on 11th August as part of the consultation process on legislative proposals on ‘Limiting the Use of Cash’ in the wake of the Fourth Anti Money Laundering Directive that came into force in June this year. The information session featured keynote speaker Manfred Galdes, Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU)’s Director. SEPTEMBER 2015
Dr Galdes set the scene by providing a background to the applicable EU Directive and the present situation in Malta in terms of the transactions and supervision being carried out, and the challenges to determine which traders fall within the categories established in the Directive. Dr Galdes explained how “the cash thresholds introduced, the types of transactions in respect of which thresholds apply and the categories of persons who are subject to the prohibition vary from one jurisdiction to another.” To this effect, the FIAU had been reviewing initiatives being taken by other member states in the implementation of the obligations arising from this Directive and assessing the benefits of limiting the use of cash in Malta. With the purpose of presenting to Government a proposal that would be broadly supported, Dr Galdes confirmed that the FIAU had been collaborating closely with the Malta Financial Services Authority and the Central Bank of Malta.
27. Free movement of goods and maternity leave discussed with Minister of Finance The Malta Chamber held two separate meetings with Finance Minister Edward Scicluna on the subject of abuse in free movement of goods and the newly introduced Maternity Leave Trust Fund. Minister Scicluna provided the Malta Chamber with an update on Government’s efforts to eradicate abuse in free movement of goods. The Malta Chamber reiterated its stance in favour of a liberalised commercial environment that is regulated in a fair and equal manner. It pointed out that an unlevel playing field continues to generate a loss of revenue to Government, as well as expose consumers to health and safety risks. Minister Scicluna informed the Malta Chamber that active steps were being taken in order to ensure fair trade within the parameters of the European single market of which Malta forms an intrinsic part. In another meeting, the Malta Chamber and Minister Scicluna spoke about the changes to the Maternity Leave System with a particular focus on the financial and
28. Fast Track Process System for visa applications for Libyan businesspersons visiting Malta The Malta Chamber entered into an agreement with the Ministry of Home Affairs and National Security which will facilitate the issuance of a D-Visa to Libyan businesspersons who intend to carry out business in Malta with Maltese and/or other nationals. The Libyan businessperson requiring a D-Visa shall submit, through a member of the Chamber (host) the requisite documents to the Malta Chamber for onward processing with the Central Visa Unit (CVU). The Malta Chamber of Commerce shall only entertain applications from its registered members or the Libyan Maltese Chamber of Commerce. Such visas shall be limited to business travellers and shall not be extended to family members of the business travellers. The visa can be valid up to a maximum of one year (365 days) however, it is only the national D-Visa valid for 180 days or more that shall allow the holder to travel for a maximum of 90 days within 180 days in the Schengen area.
29. NEWS FROM HSBC – HSBC Malta launches €75m Malta Trade for Growth Fund HSBC Bank launched a new €75 million Malta Trade for Growth (MTFG) Fund following the success of the first €50m trade fund launched in December 2013. The aim of the €75m MTFG Fund is to help Maltese companies take their business beyond Malta to new frontiers and achieve international growth thanks
to the HSBC Group’s ability to capture value from its global presence, in particular through the creation of new trade corridors in the emerging markets. The first MTFG Fund, launched in 2013, was snapped up by eager businesses in just under a year in what stands as a clear demonstration of the Maltese businesses’ desire to grow globally. A number of businesses in various economic sectors benefited from the first €50m fund.
30. Malta Chamber gears up for CHOGM
Ahead of the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Malta in November, the Malta Chamber is currently carrying out preparations in its role as a central contributor to the Business Forum to be organised on the same days. President Anton Borg met Phyllis Muscat, Chairperson of the CHOGM Task Force, and discussed the role of the Malta Chamber further. Mr Borg noted how CHOGM, and
31. specifically the Business Forum which is scheduled to take place between 24th and 26th November, is an unprecedented opportunity for local businesses to network with international players and decisionmakers. This is an opportunity for Malta to grow further in the role of an enabler of business collaborations between regions.
31. Malta Chamber and Junior Achievement Young Enterprise sign collaboration agreement The Malta Chamber and Junior Achievement Young Enterprise (JA-YE Malta) signed an agreement with the aim to further formalise an existing excellent relationship, and enhance collaboration between the two organisations. By virtue of this agreement, the Malta Chamber shall support Young Enterprise in its efforts to promote an entrepreneurial culture among the young, by means of resources and expert support. President Anton Borg said that the Malta Chamber has always strived in favour of inculcating an entrepreneurial culture among the youth. Mr Borg reiterated the Chamber’s call to Government to include entrepreneurship in the national academic curriculum. The Malta Chamber believes that in order to assure strong
businesses tomorrow, we must invest in our younger generation today.
32. Malta Chamber notes revised plans to locate education investment In a press release issued on 25th August, the Malta Chamber noted the publication of revised plans to locate the announced Jordanian investment in Malta within a reduced ODZ footprint as well as in a regenerated historical building in Cospicua’s Dock 1. To this end, the Malta Chamber made a number of considerations. The Chamber remained in favour of the foreign direct investment project given that it was planned in the field of education which is one of the sectors identified for growth by the Malta Chamber in its Economic Vision 2014-2020. The Malta Chamber noted the Government’s claim that the project would have a positive economic impact on the economy of between €48 million and €85 million. Government needed to ensure that these goals materialised. Milestones for the achievements of said goals needed to be set, for their efficient monitoring.
01. National Enterprise Support Awards 2015 – Malta Chamber awarded prize The Malta Chamber participated in this year’s National Enterprise Support Awards (NESA) with two projects, one focusing on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and another on Internationalisation. The Malta Chamber was awarded a prize in its category with its CSR project. This project, which is an ongoing initiative, is carried out in collaboration with Bank of Valletta. The main aims of the project are that mapping out the conduct and 74
development of CSR initiatives by Maltese companies raises awareness and promotes the concept of CSR among the business community, and maximises the benefits of CSR to business and society at large.
02. Meeting with new Chargé d’Affaires to Malta in Dublin On 11th June, Internationalisation Executive Lina El-Nahhal met with newly appointed Chargé d’Affaires to Malta in Dublin, Joanna Pisani. Following a briefing about the Malta Chamber and its structure, Ms Pisani informed the Malta Chamber that she would be moving to Dublin in July to offer her assistance to all companies wishing to do business in Ireland.
01. SEPTEMBER 2015
03. Stammtisch 2015 The German Embassy in Malta, with the collaboration of the German Maltese Business Council, organised another edition of Stammtisch – the meetings of German Business Forum Malta on 17th June at the Malta Chamber. The event, a German tradition of an informal gathering where people meet to talk, was organised for German companies. This edition was a dialogue session with Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, who said that 1.7 million tourists visited Malta in 2014, an 8 per cent increase from 2013. He added that Germany stands at third place for incoming tourists, with a large number attending the annual Baroque Festival. Dr Zammit Lewis pointed out that the current administration is looking into promoting Malta as a MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) destination, adding that an agency called Conventions Malta was established last week with the aim to reposition Malta as a centre for conference business.
04. Meeting with Robert Scheid of Germany Trade and Invest The German Maltese Business Council, in collaboration with the North African Business Council, held a meeting with Robert Scheid, Head of Germany Trade and Invest office in Milan and Representative of Italy and Malta. The meeting took place on 23rd June at the Malta Chamber and was attended by several Maltese companies that are interested in doing business with German companies to target the MENA region, particularly North Africa. Mr Scheid spoke about Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI) explaining that it is an entity funded by the Ministry of the Economy and aims at promoting German FDI and Trade. He added that GTAI acts as an independent journalist for German Federal States, Ministries, Chambers of Commerce within Germany as well as German Chambers abroad, German Embassies and Consulates.
05. MEBC meets journalists from the Gulf The Middle East Business Council hosted a delegation from various Dubai and Qatari-based media companies covering the entire gulf region, at the Malta Chamber on 15th June. The delegation 76
08. was organised by the Consulate General of Malta in Dubai with the support of Malta Tourism Authority, Malta Enterprise and Finance Malta. Media organisations included Forbes Middle East, Arabian Travel News, Arab Investor and various other popular magazines in the Gulf region. The delegation was welcomed by VicePresident Tonio Casapinta who introduced the Chamber and the MEBC, mentioning the several delegations that have been organised to the Gulf as well as the agreements signed with various Chambers of Commerce and entities in the Gulf. He also outlined the advantages of doing business in Malta, including its strategic location and low unemployment rate, among others. Dr David Zahra, member of the MEBC spoke about Islamic Finance and the business council’s efforts that led the Maltese Government to introduce it in its Budget 2015 document. He added that this will be a positive step for encouraging Gulf business in Malta.
06. Chamber meets representatives from the Polish Embassy in Rome Vice-President Tonio Casapinta, together with Director General Kevin J Borg welcomed a delegation from the Polish Embassy in Rome at the Malta Chamber. Mr Casapinta welcomed them to the Chamber and pointed out that the Malta Chamber signed a Memorandum of Understanding with its Polish counterpart in 2009. He also informed them about the establishment of Trade Malta as the new trade promotion agency. Mr Casapinta outlined the trade statistics between Malta and Poland mentioning that, in 2014, the main products exported from Malta to Poland were pharmaceutical products while tobacco was the main product imported from Poland to Malta. H.E. Ms Janek thanked the Malta Chamber for hosting this meeting and expressed her willingness to assist in any way to further promote bilateral trade between Malta and Poland. The possible sectors for cooperation between both countries were also discussed. These included tourism, cosmetics, jewellery manufacturing, agro food and yachts, among others.
07. Striving economy in Ethiopia could offer alternative During a meeting with the Ethiopian Ambassador to Malta H.E. Henok Habtegebrial and Malta Enterprise representative in Addis Ababa Ronald Micallef, the Malta Chamber was given a presentation on recent growth experienced by the Ethiopian economy, and how this could offer an alternative to Maltese entrepreneurs who experienced difficulty in the North African region. The meeting discussed opportunities for trade between Ethiopia and Malta, and aimed at opening up a longer term dialogue. The Malta Chamber heard how it is Malta Enterprise’s intention to establish a presence in Addis Ababa and hence in the entire Sub-Saharan region.
08. Malta Chamber focuses on MENA region in first of its kind event The Malta Chamber organised an event titled ‘Business Opportunities in the MENA Region’, a first of its kind event that brought together members of the business and diplomatic communities, in order to discuss opportunities in the MENA region. Opening the event, the Chamber President said that in the face of unprecedented disruption in the Mediterranean region, business was nevertheless optimistic. “We increasingly witness business looking out for opportunities in the region which is offering such strong growth potential.” The event featured two panel sessions, ‘The Middle East Perspective’ and ‘The North Africa Perspective’. Both sessions were moderated by Malta Chamber board member David Xuereb. Closing the event, Foreign Affairs Minister George Vella said, “the existing potential that Malta and its entrepreneurs are being presented with in the MENA region is boundless. Malta can act as a central location for the conduct of business by entities originating from Europe and beyond it who hunger to tap the MENA markets, but also for the MENA entrepreneur who wants to utilise our services to venture beyond his region.” cc SEPTEMBER 2015
CC make the headlines
New weddings portal goes live on 1st October
The OurWedding.com.mt team - (from left) Lindsey, Sarah, Martina, Petra, Caroline
here’s something about weddings, and the love stories tied to them, that captivates the romantic in all of us. From the proposal to the planning stage, right up until the big day arrives, there’s so much to plan and do, and while there are many resources out there to provide inspiration and advice, 1st October will see the launch of an exciting new platform that will be the first of its kind on the Maltese islands: OurWedding.com.mt. Always up-to-date, easy-to-use and chock full of locally relevant ideas, inspiration and suppliers, OurWedding.com.mt is a highend lifestyle-oriented portal featuring fresh content, including a plethora of information to make the journey to a couple’s big day effortless and fun, as well as relationship advice, travel tips and home décor ideas that couples will find useful whatever the stage of their relationship. Backed by a brilliant team of editors, journalists and bloggers on behalf of Content House Group – the publishing company behind many of Malta’s top magazines – OurWedding.com.mt will serve as an essential tool for couples, covering an
extensive range of sectors from wedding planning to venues, catering to flowers, bridal wear to fashion, bridal cars to photographers, make-up artists to musicians, jewellery to invitations, honeymoon and travelling, a home and design section and much more. “What we set out to achieve with this portal is an active one-stop-shop for couples who are planning their big day, as well as for anyone who loves or is interested in weddings, home interiors and travelling. It will feature a mix of local stories and news, plus interesting international happenings and trends within the world of weddings,” says co-editor Sarah Micallef. Apart from this, very much like a wedding itself, OurWedding.com.mt will also serve as a visual treat. In fact, the portal’s design is also something that co-editor Martina Said believes really sets it apart. “Aside from the interactive content and engaging stories, I believe OurWedding.com.mt is special because of its sophisticated, elegant design and accessible interface,” she says. An extensive wedding directory covering all major wedding and home sectors including bridal wear and jewellery, cars,
Photo by Alan Carville
catering, florists, invitations, souvenirs, and home furnishings also forms an integral part of the portal, as well as a Real Weddings section, which provides an insight into real couples’ weddings, featuring photos and interviews from actual weddings in Malta. Certainly, as OurWedding’s online sales manager Petra Urso concludes, “our job is to understand what the market wants to tap into, so as to highlight their products and services to brides and grooms across Malta. We’re creating something new, and OurWedding.com.mt will stand out from the rest. We are certain about that.” cc Ourwedding.com.mt is a project owned and managed by Content House Group. For advertising and editorial enquiries – T: 2132 0713; E: email@example.com
Seasonal office style
04. Kitten heels If you’re not a big fan of high heels but your office doesn’t quite call for flats, kitten heels make for the perfect middle-ground solution. Stylish yet demure, these classic heels will lend an elegant and feminine touch to your look without the discomfort higher court shoes can bring. Opt for a pair in a classic colour like nude or black with a stylish ankle strap for top fashion points, not to mention a little added comfort and security.
Despite the summer heat lingering on, the season is slowly starting to change this month, and it’s the perfect time to begin making a shift in your office wear. Sarah Micallef brings you some great tips to change up your work wear wardrobe this season.
05. Silk scarf
While it’s a good time to begin incorporating some fall essentials into your office wardrobe, summer isn’t quite over yet. Keep the summer vibe going for a little while longer through bright pieces in colours like red, yellow, coral and turquoise. Stick to tailored pieces and sharp lines for maximum impact in these vibrant hues – it will also lend your look a professional air, despite the whimsical colour.
What comes to mind when you think of timeless style? To me, it’s vintage screen actresses like Audrey Hepburn looking classic and ageless regardless of the year. A beautifully printed or geometric silk scarf lends itself well to this aesthetic, and adding a coordinating scarf is sure to elevate any outfit this season. Be careful not to look too matchy matchy though, and invest in a piece in high-quality silk to really do justice to this look.
01. Bright hues
Looking to add a bit of a rock n’roll edge to your everyday look? The Chelsea boot, favoured by rock royalty across the globe, will be sure to do just that. Whether in polished leather or suede, these boots look better once they’re a little broken in, and are equally at home when paired with a skinny suit or worn to dress up a pair of jeans. So once the colder weather starts to kick in, you know what boot to reach for. cc
It’s all or nothing when it comes to jewellery at the moment – with bold statement accessories and dainty minimalist pieces stealing the spotlight, leaving room for very little in between. Over in the delicate camp, personalised alphabet jewellery is really having a moment, and can make for the perfect finishing touch to your outfit. A dainty letter charm representing your name in yellow or rose gold will also lend your look a refined and upmarket touch this season.
06. Chelsea boots
02. Alphabet jewellery
03. The khaki suit
The warmer weather serves as the perfect backdrop for lighter colours when it comes to your clothes, so it’s no surprise that the khaki suit has fast become a favourite this season. Give your suiting options a bit of an update with a lighter coloured suit in a khaki hue, brightened up with a crisp shirt and vibrant tie. After all, there’s plenty of time for all your black, grey and blue varieties once the temperature drops!
From eye-catching desk ornaments to peculiar (yet must-have) office gadgets, Martina Said rounds up some of the coolest devices out there. 01. Self-stirring mug
02. Designer bin The little things are what make the greatest impact, and this ultra-modern steel-wire bin by Danish design company Menu is really a bin to behold. It is available in a range of colours and metallic finishes, and best suited for light trash such as papers, plastic wrappers and the likes, making it an ideal office bin, and, a designer accessory.
This visually unimpressive mug is actually rather ingenious – especially handy for those who hate finding the drawer devoid of spoons every morning for their first coffee of the day. Inside this mug is a spinning plastic disk that blends your coffee, tea or hot chocolate with the click of a button, found on the handle. It is battery-operated and equally easy to clean; simply fill it with water, pour in some soap and give it a spin. No spoon necessary!
03. Eco tablet stand This tablet stand, made with bamboo, is lightweight yet durable and a convenient desk item, particularly for those who use a tablet frequently in their day-to-day office duties. This Qi iPad stand has an adjustable display stand with five different angles for comfortable viewing, allowing you to get the perfect angle whether you’re at your desk or in a meeting. The ledge accommodates landscape and portrait viewing, and the slotted back allows effective air flow.
04. Mason jar or speaker Both, actually. This speaker-in-a-jar is selfcontained, compact and an unexpected bit of fun, and hand-crafted from scratch by US-based creators Adam Wegner and Ron Sloat. Whether you choose to play some music off your phone during your lunch break at the office or take the jar with you for an impromptu party in the canteen, all you need to do is hook up a personal music player or mobile device through the wire and enjoy the music.
05. Steampunk style This steampunk-style container will be an instant hit with appreciators of all things quirky. Sheets of hand-stained wood are laser-cut and imprinted with inventor Lance Nybye Jr’s thumbprint, and intended as a desktop item to contain paperclips, pins, sticky notes and other small office supplies. It has a machineinspired motif, and clearly shows an enthusiasm for eco-conscious living.
06. Colourful de-stressor
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Add a touch of inspiration and positive vibes to your day with this colourful cube made with interconnected wooden blocks that you can arrange into shapes and designs of your own imagining. Although you could use the wood blocks to form a cube, the idea is to build ‘out of the box’, by creating random configurations using 12 finely-sanded blocks that would make an eye-catching and elegant desk ornament. It’s also an effective way of kicking mental block and soothing your nerves. cc
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“The world’s most popular sport has been shaken from its foundations” As he deliberates on whether to extend his presidency for a third term next year, Malta Football Association President Norman Darmanin Demajo weighs in on the recent corruption scandal that has engulfed FIFA, and shares his thoughts on the state of football locally as well as what’s on the horizon for the MFA with Sarah Micallef.
he truth is that FIFA has gotten itself into a mess,” states MFA President Norman Darmanin Demajo in no uncertain terms, referring to the recent corruption scandal that has seen the indictment of 14 current and former officials for bribery-related offences. “The world’s most popular sport has been shaken from its foundations.” While affirming that no one could have foreseen that, a few hours after being elected for a fifth term, Sepp Blatter would resign and vacate the seat of FIFA President, Mr Darmanin Demajo asserts that Mr Blatter’s whole term of office has been tainted by consistent allegations of corruption and wrongdoings. “Although none of these were ever pointed to or proven against Blatter himself, I personally
believe he never had the will to do anything about the allegations, probably because these were the same people who sat on the FIFA Executive committee, and on whose support Blatter relied on to remain in power,” he says. Meanwhile, the MFA President has spoken favourably of presidency candidate Prince Ali, despite his losing out to Blatter in the 2015 presidential election. Asked whether he still feels Prince Ali would make a worthy president for FIFA, Mr Darmanin Demajo maintains that while he still feels he has the qualities to be a worthy FIFA President, “Prince Ali has not indicated his intentions to contest again, and I think it would be best to wait till 26th October, the closing date for the FIFA nominations, to confirm who the candidates for the post will be.”
“It was under Blatter’s Presidency that FIFA got itself in its present mess – he had ample time to do something about it, but he lacked the will to do so – now it would be best if he just left the building and let his successor do the job.”
Photos by Alan Carville
“The investment that the MFA made in recent years in the club’s infrastructure has translated into a marked increase in participation at all levels, especially youth football, nurseries and women’s football.”
As for what is on the horizon for FIFA following the widely publicised scandal, Mr Darmanin Demajo believes that the most urgent issue for FIFA is to “get its house in order and put in place the safeguards that will begin to win back some credibility.” While a Reform Task Force led by an independent chairman will present its recommendations before the end of September, the MFA President comments that “the general feeling is that this should not happen under Blatter’s watch – it was under Blatter’s Presidency that FIFA got itself in its present mess – he had ample time to do something about it, but he lacked the will to do so – now it would be best if he just left the building and let his successor do the job.” Turning on to the local situation, the MFA President states that many good things are happening in Maltese football. “The investment that the MFA made in recent years in the club’s infrastructure has translated into a marked increase in participation at all levels, especially youth football, nurseries and women’s football. This is the most important and significant factor for me – our priority mandate and mission is to promote the game of football at all levels and I am satisfied with what has been achieved so far.” Despite this, Mr Darmanin Demajo feels that the general public does not often look at things from the same perspective, with some judging merely by the results of Malta’s national teams, or by stadium attendances of the Premier League and the lower divisions. While acknowledging this as an undeniable part of the equation, he does not consider it an indicative factor of the popularity of the game in Malta. Explaining that the MFA’s focus is on longterm development sustained by a strong financial platform, Mr Darmanin Demajo asserts, “I think the general public is more concerned with short-term goals and results, which is understandable because winning is more immediate and appeasing. But if we begin to adjust the way we look at things, and keep in mind that football in Malta, even at its highest level, is still played on an amateur model, we could learn to reconcile our expectations with our realities, and the 86
overall perception would change for the better.” Meanwhile, I draw the MFA President’s attention to various reports on corruption practices in Malta that have arisen over the years, asking: is corruption still present in Maltese football? Admitting that corruption and matchfixing is a reality in the world of football, Mr Darmanin Demajo states that Malta is not immune. “Recent cases have confirmed that match-fixing in Malta has taken place, even at international level, and it would be foolish to assume that our country is free from corruption. I do believe, however, that the absolute majority of games in Malta are played under normal conditions and are outside the match-fixing ring,” he states. He goes on to highlight the efforts of MFA’s Integrity Officer, Franz Tabone, which have led to a number of gambling circles being exposed or kept in check. Expanding on the MFA’s agenda to tackle abuse and corruption, Mr Darmanin Demajo explains that a specific task force has been set up which will aim to combat corruption
from a higher level, with the involvement of Government, the Opposition and the Police. “The MFA cannot be expected to fight this battle alone – this problem needs to be tackled from various angles,” he maintains. Apart from this, he believes that awareness, communication and education can help to create better informed players who are equipped to overcome the temptations that match-fixing presents. “A ‘true’ football player would never involve himself in match-fixing,” Mr Darmanin Demajo extolls, “football is a game of passion, glory, tears, camaraderie and team spirit. It creates incredible moments and unforgettable memories, and ‘true’ football players would never betray those emotions.” On a different note, Birkirkara made an unusual signing for a Maltese football club this year: striker Fabrizio Miccoli, who despite being past his peak, is still well-known and may have contributed to Birkirkara’s good run in its attempt for the Europa league qualification. Asked whether he believes signings like that of Miccoli can change or provide a new business impetus for local SEPTEMBER 2015
“Football is a game of passion, glory, tears, camaraderie and team spirit. It creates incredible moments and unforgettable memories, and ‘true’ football players would never betray those emotions.”
clubs, Mr Darmanin Demajo maintains that while the presence of players of this level in Malta’s Premier League should create more interest and competitiveness, he has doubts about whether Miccoli’s presence will translate into significant additional revenue streams for the club. “The operation of the Premier League in Malta has been the same for the past 30 years, and is based on a dated model that guarantees very little as regards income, despite the fact that running costs have risen beyond compare in recent years,” he states, explaining that clubs that want to compete in the Premier League depend completely on sources of income that arise from sources outside of the game. “This is not an acceptable model on which to build or project a sustainable future for our clubs. Furthermore, the recent introduction of the Financial Fair Play rules have put additional financial pressure on clubs, which will need to look internally at the way they are being managed,” he continues. According to Mr Darmanin Demajo, unless the local scene adjusts to changing times, progress and growth will be stifled. “I am concerned that unless we come up with a different model, the majority of our Premier SEPTEMBER 2015
League clubs will have no choice but to seek the refuge of the lower divisions, where budgets are significantly lower,” he admits, adding that if the clubs and the MFA work closer together, they can raise the level of league competitions. As for what the future holds for the MFA, Mr Darmanin Demajo maintains that the Players Status Reform that was carried through last season will be followed up with a review of the MFA statute and regulations, which he feels have become “totally out of sync with today’s realities.” Other priorities include a revised business model for the Premier League, and the continuation of discussions with Government regarding the commercialisation of football clubs and the extension of the periods of the leases held by Maltese football clubs. Meanwhile, the association has a number of projects in the pipeline, including further investments aimed at increasing the association’s streams of income following the opening of the MFA Clinic at the Millennium Stand. The next 12 months will also see the installation of a new floodlighting system for the training grounds in Ta’ Qali, a replacement state-of-the-art artificial surface for the Centenary Stadium, a major overhaul
and the installation of a new ‘hybrid’ grass surface for the National Stadium, and the finalisation of a photovoltaic project encompassing approximately 7,000 square metres. As for Mr Darmanin Demajo himself, attention now falls to whether he will be contesting for his third term at the presidential election next year. Having consulted with Council members and Club delegates, he explains that while the general feeling seems to be that a change in the MFA Presidency would not be in the best interest of the association at this time, there are a number of factors worthy of consideration. “I feel a decision from my part will need to be taken in the next few months. I would not like to drag this decision to the very end of my term, as this would create uncertainty within the MFA. I am not in love with the ‘seat’ of President, and will only consider extending my term if I genuinely believe that I can continue to use the MFA Presidency to put forward my ideas on how we can raise the bar at all levels of the game, and to personally ensure that Maltese football is governed with total transparency and integrity.” cc
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HSBC provides tools for doing business in Malta Moving or starting a business in a new market – while exciting – can be a challenging prospect no matter one’s experience in world markets. HSBC Bank Malta understands this and has dedicated significant commitment to create tools for businesses on the verge of setting up in Malta or Maltese businesses wishing to trade internationally. ‘Why Malta?’ film First is a ‘Why Malta?’ film which highlights the attractions of living, working and running a business in Malta. Originally unveiled in December 2013 to coincide with the first launch of the Malta Trade for Growth Fund, the 12-minute ‘Why Malta?’ film is an excellent tool for business to use when talking to potential customers. Through breathtaking visuals, the film describes Malta as a modern, costeffective eurozone jurisdiction with attractive investment incentives, double tax agreements with major countries and a clear
regulatory framework. Owing to its popularity, ‘Why Malta?’ has now been translated to five international languages – Arabic, French, German, Spanish and Mandarin – from the original English version. ‘Doing Business in Malta’ guide Another tool for businesses is ‘Doing Business in Malta’ guide, prepared by HSBC Bank Malta in conjunction with Grant Thornton. The guide provides invaluable insight into the key aspects of undertaking business and investing in Malta. It aims to answer the key questions overseas businesses and entrepreneurs will have when making their first venture into the Maltese market. This is another tool which businesses can use to introduce Malta
to their business counterparts around the globe. The guide opens with an introduction about the business climate of Malta and the contours that shape it. A comprehensive legal overview then provides an understanding of political and legal systems as well as regulations affecting businesses on themes such as data protection, money laundering and intellectual property rights. Further chapters in the ‘Doing Business in Malta’ guide shed light on conducting business in Malta, the tax system, labour market, trade and finance, and infrastructure. cc For further information visit www.business. hsbc.com.mt to download the ‘Doing Business in Malta’ guide and call 2380 8000 to obtain the ‘Why Malta?’ USBs.
Two Engel & Völkers Sara Grech agents among the 10 best rental agents in the world Malta might be the smallest operating country among the 39 countries within the Engel & Völkers network, but it certainly left a strong mark during the latest Global Event which took place on 31st July this year in Mallorca. This event brings together all licensed partners from around the world for a day of networking, excitement and first-hand experience of the brand’s culture at Christian Völkers’ private residence ‘Son Coll’.
Mark Molnar standing second from left and Perrine Bourgeais fourth from right.
Perrine, a 30-year-old high school business graduate specialising in communications arrived in Malta from her home town in Toulouse (France) with the ambition of doing something great. Although she always aspired to work in global sporting events, she holds no regrets about the way her career has unfolded. She was impressed by the way the whole The highly-awaited ceremony for the ‘TOP Engel & Völkers brand is represented across Agents 2014’ in both the residential and the Mallorcan shores during her weekend in commercial divisions saw two Engel & Völkers Mallorca. According to Perrine, “apart from Sara Grech agents land a ‘TOP’ award for their efforts within the rental division during last year. the prize and being recognised as a TOP real Accompanied by the management team, Perrine estate agent I must admit that the whole Bourgeais and Mark Molnar classified in the third experience was incredible, from the set-up of Christian Völkers’ residence to learning how and tenth place respectively among all rental agents from over 500 offices around the world. other agents operate in foreign countries.” SEPTEMBER 2015
The same thoughts were echoed by Mark, who originally came to Malta as a wine importer from his homeland Hungary. He is delighted to have landed this prestigious award and said “this award will spur me on to achieve even bigger things with Engel & Völkers Sara Grech.” In just one year and eight months Mark has established himself as a top rental agent in Malta and is already looking forward to next year’s Global Event in Mallorca. Following the presentation of the awards, guests enjoyed the annual polo event featuring six high ranked teams, set against the picturesque backdrop of the Serra de Tramutana Mountains. cc 91
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An innovative and flexible approach to investing Most of us wish to be able to save more money. The key to saving is to spend what you have left after investing and not invest what you have left after spending. The Valletta Fund Management Monthly Investment Plan (MIP) provides you with an excellent way to start planning for your future. By allocating a small amount of your salary every month, you can easily start an MIP. By choosing to invest a sum of money every month in an investment fund of your choice, you will minimise the downside to the markets over the years by purchasing units at different prices. This strategy of price averaging does not try to time markets; instead it reduces the risk of investing a large amount, at an unfavourable time, by spreading your investments over a period of months, years or even decades. Investing through an MIP also offers an element of flexibility in view that most investment funds are not closed-ended and have no maturity date, trade daily and are
accessible within a short timeframe. You can also keep your plan for as long as you wish. There are various investment funds which one can access through an MIP, ranging from those with the objective of generating Income, Income and Growth, and Growth. The range of investment funds managed by VFM invests in the domestic and international markets across the main asset classes. Market timing is one of the biggest dilemmas investors face. Market timing is a strategy that attempts to predict future market movements using fundamental and technical analysis. Jumping in and out of markets on a regular basis not only requires constant monitoring of daily events but also requires the skill to act on such events. The message here is that trying to predict market movements is difficult, if not impossible, so it’s best to avoid it. A number of specialist investment funds managed by VFM are sub-managed by Insight Investment Management Ltd, one of UK’s largest asset managers and a subsidiary of Bank of New York Mellon. Other funds are sub-managed by Waverton Investment Management Ltd, a boutique asset manager and winner of the Private Asset Managers Award for 2015. This means that your MIP will be accessing a professionally managed investment fund. It is important that before taking any investment decisions, you discuss your
financial situation and investment goals with a licensed financial advisor to ensure that your investment is in line with your objective and risk appetite. cc For further information on the full range of Valletta Fund Management’s funds visit www.vfm.com.mt The opinions expressed herein should not be interpreted as investment advice. Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. Investments should be based on the full details of the Prospectus, Offering Supplement and the KIID which may be obtained from Valletta Fund Management Limited (“VFM”), Bank of Valletta plc Branches/Investment Centres and other Licensed Financial Intermediaries. VFM is licensed to provide Investment Services in Malta by the MFSA. Issued by Valletta Fund Management Limited, TG Complex, Suite 2, Level 3, Triq il-Birrerija, l-Imriehel, Birkirkara BKR 3000.
Prestigious award for BPC founder The late Joseph Brockdorff, founder of BPC International, has been posthumously awarded the Gold Award by the Institute of Maltese Journalists (IGM). This is the institute’s most prestigious honour, recognising those who have made significant contributions and shown extraordinary commitment in championing journalism in Malta. The judging panel was chaired by President Emeritus H.E. Dr George Abela. The Gold Award, sponsored by Tumas Fenech Foundation for Education in Journalism, was presented by President Emeritus H.E. Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici. Though ‘JB’, as he was known, was not a journalist, his unswerving support for the institute, his wise counsel and far-sighted
strategic input over many years of support, were game-changing factors which helped journalism in Malta gain a more professional and sustainable footing. Testament to this is the fact that the award ceremony was the 25th one since its inception. cc
The award was collected by his widow, Aurelia Brockdorff. Also present for the prestigious ceremony were David Brockdorff, BPC managing director (first right), Wojtek Brockdorff (second right), Adam Brockdorff (third left), James Brockdorff (first left) and Audrey Brockdorff.
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Photofusion self-tinting lenses made by ZEISS As every spectacle wearer knows, the ideal scenario is when you don’t even notice you’re wearing spectacles because they adapt so well to each and every situation. So the need to keep switching back and forth between normal spectacles and sunglasses can be very irritating. Self-tinting lenses which darken automatically when exposed to sunlight and fade back when you return indoors can offer a good solution. But how do you go about choosing a good pair of self-tinting or ‘photochromic’ lenses? To find out more, we talked to Volker Gahr, the Senior Product Manager at ZEISS responsible for ZEISS PhotoFusion®. Self-tinting lenses have been around for a long time. The way they switch from clear to dark almost seems like magic, but many wearers still consider them to be old-fashioned and unattractive. What does the latest generation of self-tinting lenses have to offer? And in what way are they an improvement on older models? Before embarking on the development of the ZEISS PhotoFusion® lenses we asked spectacle wearers to describe exactly what their ideal self-tinting lenses would look like and what qualities and features they would have. Their top priority was the lenses’ ability to react quickly to sunlight and to turn back from dark to clear indoors. As for the perception that self-tinting lenses are considered to be unfashionable, this is largely attributed to the problems experienced with the older generations of self-tinting lenses. When these were supposed to go clear they seemed to spend ages in a kind of intermediate state. That’s why today’s spectacle wearers consider it so important to have self-tinting lenses that go completely clear indoors so that they look like a normal pair of spectacles. Modern self-tinting lenses are also expected to offer the same levels of UV and glare protection as normal sunglasses. These were the key features requested by customers that gave us the basis for developing PhotoFusion®. And they also represent the key criteria that spectacle wearers should be looking for and comparing when they buy self-tinting lenses.
How do you make lenses react faster to changing light conditions? The secret lies in special photoactive molecules incorporated within the lens which react to high-energy UV light. When sunlight hits the lens it increases the surface area of these molecules which makes the lenses darken. The stronger the sunlight or UV light, the darker the lens gets. Take away the UV light and the molecules shrink back to their original size. Photoactive molecules are simply special chemical compounds that we have optimised for PhotoFusion® lenses to ensure that they do their job as fast as possible.
How long are the molecules used in PhotoFusion® capable of doing their job? They never get tired! Their ability doesn’t decrease to any noticeable degree during the lifetime of a lens. Having said that, a selftinting lens is an ‘optical device’ in the same category as binoculars, microscopes and camera lenses, so it does require a certain amount of care and protection. There’s no doubt that a good surface finish comprising a hard lens coating with excellent antireflective properties will increase the life of a lens and provide added comfort. cc For more details: T: 2381 1000; E: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Facebook page: Zeiss Optical Malta
On the subject of UV light, do ZEISS selftinting lenses really offer the same high level of UV protection as ZEISS sunglass lenses? Just like our sunglass lenses, PhotoFusion® lenses offer 100 per cent UV protection which means you can be confident of having the best possible protection. The UV filter effect of PhotoFusion® is fully active even when the lenses are clear, so by choosing them you can be sure you’re not taking any unnecessary risks. Who can benefit from self-tinting lenses? Self-tinting lenses offer comfortable and relaxed vision. Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, they make sure your vision is just right. So I would say self-tinting lenses are a great solution for anyone who spends a lot of time going in and out of buildings and who finds having to switch between two pairs of spectacles a real hassle. And obviously they are a particularly good choice for people who are sensitive to light because constantly screwing up your eyes can get very tiring and even lead to headaches in the most extreme cases.
The main role of gadgets (for the most part) is to make life a little easier and more fun. Sarah Micallef brings you her top gadget picks of the moment. 01. Logitech UE Mini Boom If you lead quite an active lifestyle or simply like to travel a lot, a portable Bluetooth speaker that can provide a soundtrack to your life at any campsite or hotel room will certainly be a useful gadget to add to your repertoire. The Logitech UE Mini Boom is one of the best ones out there at the moment: it’s small so you can really take it anywhere, but packs a punch, putting out a louder and fuller sound than many larger models. The sound quality is also noteworthy, making this a great deal indeed!
02. MICA Designed by Opening Ceremony and powered by Intel, MICA, or My Intelligent Communication Accessory, is the latest in great-looking wearable technology. Besides being a beautiful bracelet boasting a 1.6-inch sapphire touchscreen, set in snakeskin with an 18k gold finish and adorned with pearls, lapis, obsidian and tiger’s eye, it runs independently from your iPhone to deliver discreet text messages, Gmail VIP notifications, Facebook calendar alerts, Yelp recommendations, Refinery29 horoscopes and fashion, as well as a ‘Time to Go’ feature that sends you smart appointment reminders based on location.
03. GoTenna Have you ever been in a situation where you had to get in touch with someone, but there was absolutely no reception to do so? GoTenna is designed just for that sort of situation. This little device that measures about as much as a pen allows you to send messages and broadcast your location to friends (who also have the device) in an area with no reception. All you have to do is pair it with your smartphone over Bluetooth, and it will send texts via long-range radio wave instead of over your wireless network – simple!
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04. Ampy Isn’t it annoying when you’re running around all day and your phone battery dies, simply because you haven’t sat still long enough to charge it? If this happens often, Ampy is perfect for you. This small external battery captures energy through motion and is powered by the user’s movement – perfect if you’re constantly on the go. Its founders claim that walking 10,000 steps or running for 30 minutes with your Ampy device in tow will supply three hours of charge to a smartphone. And as a bonus, it also tracks your steps and calories burned throughout the day.
05. Tile If you’ve got a knack for misplacing things, the diminutive Tile, billed as a ‘smart companion’, can help you find them. The water resistant keyring is cute on the outside and intelligent to boot – all you need to do is drop it into a bag or attach it to your keys and it uses a Bluetooth 4.0 LE (Low Energy) connection which pairs with your smartphone to help you locate your item within 100 yards (about 91 metres).
06. Mondaine Helvetica 1 Smart Watch The first luxury smartwatch has arrived in the form of the Mondaine Helvetica 1. This handsome watch works primarily as an activity tracker, recording steps, sleep and calories burned, and offers wearers smart alarms and activity alerts. Unlike predecessors like the Fitbit, Jawbone and Withings lifestyle wearables, the Mondaine tracker looks very much like your regular, fashionable wristwatch while syncing the data it collects with users’ smartphone and dedicated app. cc
The right protection for your business Whether you’re insuring a budding start-up or a global company, there’s an insurance product to fit. And, as Jo Caruana finds out, the right policy could give both you and your team vital peace of mind.
e all know that prevention is better than cure, which is exactly why the right insurance policy could make all the difference to your business: it’s there to prevent you from losing everything when the unforeseen happens. But where do you begin? How do you know what to insure, how much to insure it for, and that you’ve chosen the right policy to cover every eventuality, thus protecting both you and your employees? “Every business should safeguard its operations and its ongoing investment and development,” says Keith MalliaMilanes, assistant general manager for Mapfre Middlesea plc. “Insurance is a
tool to provide an adequate level of financial protection in the event that an accident takes place. Insurance will help to safeguard the enterprise and its employees during an unfortunate period.” Backing that point, Fiona Borg, the chief operating officer for Mediterranean Insurance Brokers, believes that every entrepreneur appreciates that businesses face different, and unique, risks on a daily basis. “Some risks are controllable and manageable, but others are not,” she says. “These risks can jeopardise investment, so it’s good that some are transferable by means of insurance.
“Keeping insurance to a minimum to save on costs is generally a mistake.” Keith Mallia-Milanes, Mapfre Middlesea plc
“Unfortunately, though, small business operations tend to think about insurance after a loss instead of before it, not realising that a loss can be detrimental to them in the same way that it affects larger organisations. Both need cover; smaller businesses can often purchase a relatively standard type of policy, while larger ones will need to specifically design an insurance programme that is customised to meet their particular needs.” Similarly to every other type of insurance, business and commercial insurance provides protection on assets and liabilities. “However it can also provide cover against financial loss due to an interruption in the operation of business following loss or damage to buildings, machinery, stocks and the like,” continues Mr Mallia-Milanes. “On the flip side, liability covers protect the insured against claims from third parties or employees.” Meanwhile, employees have also started to request insurance themselves. As a result, ‘group life’, ‘personal accident’ and ‘health insurance’, which are collectively known as Employee Benefits Insurance, have started to feature more prominently on human resources agendas, as companies strive to attract, retain and reward talent in an environment of increasing staff mobility. Insurance can 100
“Peace of mind – and this is what insurance generally sets out to achieve – ranks very high in the mind of a motivated employee.” James Portelli, Citadel Insurance plc help employers keen to boost their staff retention. “Employee benefits insurance is one of the tools in the hands of HR managers to achieve this,” explains James Portelli, from Citadel Insurance plc. “Peace of mind – and this is what insurance generally sets out to achieve – ranks very high in the mind of a motivated employee. “Thus, group life policies are typically bought by employers to insure some or all of their employees. The basic cover provided by such policies is payment of an agreed sum insured in the event of death, however group life policies may include additional benefits like permanent total disability cover, an accidental death benefit or income protection. In some cases, suitable amendments to, and increased contributions into a policy can help build a savings fund per employee depending on their age and remaining years of service. “Personal accident insurance is another policy available to employers, which generally applies while an employee is at work or commuting to and from work. It can, however, be extended to provide cover on a 24-hour basis.
“This policy offers wider cover when it comes to disability of a more temporary nature,” continues Mr Portelli. “Private medical insurance, meanwhile, although still not that common, is one of the growing classes of insurance in Malta. It is generally designed in packages ranging from basic compensation for in-patient treatment on a reimbursement basis (with typical exclusions such as maternity, dentistry, alternative medicine and so on) for a restricted local network of health providers, to a full reimbursement of outpatient and in-patient treatment, locally and overseas, for a wider range of ailments and traditional or alternative medicine. Some also include an element of routine health screening.” Ms Borg, meanwhile, explains that so called ‘affinity schemes’ – which cover employees across various aspects – have been created for companies, with advantageous coverage terms for employees, and including motor and travel. “We are also discussing methods to encourage employees to think about regular savings,” she says. “To achieve this, we are offering savings plans that can be SEPTEMBER 2015
CC insurance taken out by the company as an additional employee benefit. This takes the form of a yearly premium per employee, with each employee having the option to top up this amount voluntarily. When leaving the company for whatever reason, the employee will receive a lump sum plus any interest generated. This is a benefit for the employee, of course, but can also help the company with staff retention.” Naturally, though, there are fees to consider when it comes to business insurance, and some companies can be put off the idea of insurance because they’re afraid of how much it will cost them to get good cover.
“Most business are concerned about the costs, since many consider insurance as an extra expense,” says Mr Mallia-Milanes. “However, in doing so they are failing to appreciate the benefits that are usually only appreciated when a business suffers a loss and needs to make a claim for reimbursement.” “In fact, keeping insurance to a minimum to save on costs is generally a mistake. Thus, it is imperative that all necessary information regarding the business is disclosed to an insurer so as to ensure that the cover being purchased is adequate for the purpose.” He explains that an insurance client is
“A savings plan is of benefit to the employee, of course, but can also help the company with staff retention.” Fiona Borg, Mediterranean Insurance Brokers
expected to correctly describe all the roles and functions of the business, including trading practices, and to correctly disclose asset values and potential liabilities that would need to be insured. “It is only in this way that an insurer can create a policy or a number of policies that would provide the comfort and peace of mind expected from an insurer. Honesty is very important,” he says. Looking to the future, Ms Borg explains that companies are becoming more aware of their unique needs when it comes to insurance. “As a result, we have seen an increase in very particular enquiries,” she says, “such as directors’ and officers’ liability, professional negligence and even cyber risks. “The most important thing, above all though, is to assess what your risks are and to seek professional advice in purchasingthe cover you need, regardless of whatthe requirements may be,” she concludes. cc
CC design trends
A raw simplicity The vision behind the design of this kick-off diner chain was for its aesthetic to be as honest as its food. Sarah Micallef speaks to architect Michael Pace about the clean, functional and fresh design that provides the perfect setting for the humble burger, which is very much the star of the show at Just Burger. Photos by Sean Mallia Design architects: Michael Pace and Steven Risiott, Forward Architects
he humble burger is a summer favourite among many, but its days as a bland fast food item that you can only get at a greasy diner or kiosk are numbered. In recent years, things have taken a gourmet turn, with premium outlets like Just Burger in St Julian’s paving the way for the burger to re-establish itself as a worthy addition to any gourmet menu. Michael Pace, partner at Forward Architects, explains that the vision for the kick-off diner chain that opened its doors last summer was for the space to be as simple and humble as Just Burger’s concept and menu. “The clients, who are from Sweden, wanted to open a place selling good, homemade burgers. The food was definitely the main feature, and the long-term approach was to franchise. Everything that came afterwards was triggered by this,” he says. While there was no definitive brief regarding what the place should look like, the
architects were inspired by the concept for the menu to create a simple, clean, airy and light space without an outwardly ‘fast food’ approach. Encompassing about six months from start of design to completion, inclusive of two months on-site, the project came with a tough timeline, which was achieved with the
help of turnkey contractor, Key Projects Ltd. The process began with dividing the space into working areas. “The first part would not have been a design concept, but a spatial one – where the high tables, low tables, the counter and the kitchen should be,” Michael says, explaining that once the location of the kitchen was determined, it was up to the
CC design trends
“The food was definitely the main feature, and the long-term approach was to franchise. Everything that came afterwards was triggered by this.”
owners to organise the kitchen up to the cash, while the architects took care of the rest. “Then the fun started. Once we knew how we were going to lay it out, we created our own brief,” Michael says. The architects went with basic and raw materials to achieve the effect they were after: a natural feel with industrial elements; and while he’s not a fan of the word ‘industrial’, Michael admits, “it encompasses the design approach, using simple methods and materials to create something functional and slightly quirky.” SEPTEMBER 2015
CC design trends He points to the tables as a good example of this, which were custom-designed using a basic system of pipes, sockets and flanges. On the floor, a chequer board of terrazzo tiles meets the smooth concrete at the entrance, and the micro-cement on the benches and counter. Putting these cementbased materials together, Michael affirms, laid out a neutral base that any colour could be added to. “We used the same marble chippings in both the dark and light terrazzo tiles. In this way, we knew they were going to match. At the entrance, the smooth concrete floor extends to the concrete wall outside, which features an embossed logo,” he maintains. Embossing the logo into the concrete was no easy feat, Michael goes on to reveal, and actually had to be done twice. “We first created the logo as a sign on a plastic or stiff polystyrene, stuck it on the inside of the formwork which was going to be used to cast
“The furnishings and finishes are all quite simple and readily available, so essentially there is nothing particularly unique about any one item. To me, the strongest point is that everything comes together really well.”
the concrete, cast the wall and eventually removed the logo from the wall. It’s easier said than done though – due to the sharp corners, you can’t just grab and pull it, because if any concrete spills over it as you do, the logo will either break or a part of the concrete will break, which ruins the logo. This is what happened the first time round. The
CC design trends second time, we lubricated the back and it was partially melted off,” he says. White walls, metro tiles reminiscent of the London Underground and rough timber cladding rounded off the effect inside. According to Michael, the colour scheme was thus self-determined. “Because we were going for natural materials, we automatically had very natural colours. We looked at loads of samples until we chose the right materials – it wasn’t simply a question of saying, this
door is going to be made of wood. We’d go into what sort of wood, whether it’s gloss or matte, whether the grain has a texture to it or whether it is smooth, and whether it is dark or light.” Once the materials for the floors, walls and ceilings were established, it was time to go into further detail, like designing and picking the tables, benches, chairs and lamps. “In the bathrooms, Steve came up with a nice idea of having very simple lighting and putting a
“At the entrance, the smooth concrete floor extends to the concrete wall outside, which features an embossed logo.”
metal mesh on the ceiling for an industrial feel, with all of the exposed services above,” Michael says. Meanwhile, vibrant pops of colour were introduced through the chairs and bathroom doors, which was also a measured consideration: “the colour is only in the detail, so theoretically if they wanted to change the bright colour, all they would need to do is change the chairs and re-spray the doors.” The architects also had specific ideas for a number of the features they intended on using – so much so that some needed to be sourced from a little further afield. “Steve selected some of the light fittings online from the US, and some from Australia, apart from those which were purchased locally,” he maintains. The resulting effect is an easily ‘franchiseable’ aesthetic that is very much in keeping with the type and style of food that is served at Just Burger: casual, no fuss and honest. Asked about the defining characteristics of the space, Michael maintains that there is no one defining feature. Rather, it’s the way all the little things work as a whole. “The furnishings and finishes are all quite simple and readily available, so essentially there is nothing particularly unique about any one item. To me, the strongest point is that everything comes together really well.” cc
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Legligin The quaint wine bar in Strada Santa Lucia in Valletta where the good flowing wine is exalted by Chris’ unique culinary delights. It’s an experience not to be missed. Tucked away in a narrow street of the historical capital city, just a corner away from Manoel Theatre, there is a haven you wouldn’t expect. The worn tables in pastel colours, the trinkets and the mismatched crockery exude a familiar feeling – the place smells like a home, offering the meals that would take hours to cook, a slowness characterised by patience and above all love. Legligin started its adventure as a wine bar in one small room. Soon enough the place was humming with people and to satisfy the demand Chris began to provide some simple nibbles which he would make at home. The space was too small to make anything more elaborate and so, years later, when an opportunity arose to expand the wine bar, Legligin could stretch its legs into a larger area with more tables and at long last a kitchen too. Today, Legligin is a concept wine bar and bistro. A €24 tasting menu allows you to sample a cross-section of Maltese and other
Open everyday except Tuesday, from 6pm onwards (from 1st October open every night). From 1st October, Legligin is also open for lunch Monday to Friday from 12.30 to 3.30pm. LEGLIGIN, 117/119, Santa Lucia Street, Valletta. For bookings call T: 2122 1699 (during openings hours) or Chris on M: 7993 2985.
Mediterranean speciality dishes. There is no à la carte menu – just sit back, relax and dishes will keep coming... the Legligin way. cc
02. Beer cocktails This may be the most refreshing drink of all – an ideal compromise for those not too keen on chugging down a pint, or a crazy amount of alcohol in one cocktail. Beer cocktails are quite the trend, available on a number of bar cocktail menus nowadays, but some recipes are also quite classic. One which goes by the name of ‘dark and stormy’, for instance, originated in the British Navy Royal Dockyard in the 1900s, and is made with dark rum, ginger beer and a lime wedge.
03. Gluten-free flours Some people have to go gluten-free, others are choosing to, and by doing so, are mixing up the flavours of baked goods thanks to a selection of gluten-free flours available to buy. Some of the most popular gluten-free flour choices are coconut, almond and chickpea flour – coconut and almond are good sources of fibre, while chickpeas are rich in protein. They offer different flavours to conventional flour, and pair well with naturally sweet ingredients such as banana and pumpkin.
05. All things bitter Sugar is out for some diners, who are beginning to favour bitter flavours in their food. If you’re one of them, you’re in luck as adventurous chefs are increasingly using bitter flavours in restaurant dishes through chocolate, greens and coffee too. This trend buys in on the desire of restaurant-goers to experience alternative tastes combined, such as bitter-spicy-sweet, rather than an overkill of one flavour, proving that our tastes get more sophisticated as we get older.
Blue Hill yoghurt
06. Get juicing This may just be another craze, but so far it seems to be working. Juicing bars are popping up sporadically and juicing options are also becoming available in cafés and restaurants. If you’re not big on fruit and veg, juicing is a good way of getting the necessary amount of nutrients and vitamins all at once, as a typical juice includes a mix of both fruits and vegetables (including kale, beets, spinach, carrots and other greens), made more palatable with some orange juice or honey. cc
06. SEPTEMBER 2015
Consumers are increasingly watching what they eat, making plain, natural yoghurt (not the ones laden with excessive sugar and sweet additives) a top choice for many. The great thing about natural yoghurt is that it’s now being offered in savoury ways too – Blue Hill, an American farm-to-table restaurant, launched a range of vegetable yoghurts in rich flavours, such as butternut squash, beet, carrot and tomato, and they became an instant hit, especially among green eaters.
01. Savoury yoghurt
Hummus is an ancient peasant dish hailing from eastern Mediterranean countries, typically made with chickpeas, tahini, lemon and garlic. It’s fast made its way into our daily lives though, used as a dip with bread, as a spread instead of butter and even served in restaurants as a condiment at table. Now supermarkets across Europe and beyond are stocking adaptations of this traditional dish, the likes of Thai chilli, cilantro-chimichurri and lemongrass hummus, to appeal to a range of palates.
Quirky trends do not just apply to solid foods – we’re seeing intriguing changes being made to beverages too. Martina Said exposes some of the latest crazes in the world of food and drink.
04. Not-so-classic hummus
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Trade finance at BOV – a legacy of expertise Trade finance is probably as old as banking itself, however the practices have definitely changed over the years. Carmel Borg who heads the Unit at Bank of Valletta recalls that in 1993, the bank set up Trade Finance Centre in a bid to centralise the processes and invest in the expertise of its people. Back then, transactions were more straightforward compared to the diverse and complex deals available nowadays. Time is also a determining factor – a matter of hours can make or break a deal. There is more to Trade Finance than process management though. Bank of Valletta invests significantly in the expertise of its people. In fact, at Trade Finance, one of the pivotal roles is the advisory one. The longer you are in this business, the more permutations you’ll encounter. This is what the BOV team at Trade Finance Unit excels at. Trade Finance has always been an integral part of the services offered by the bank but it has been given considerably more
importance as demand evolved. Not only are there more Maltese who are brokering international trade deals, but there are also many international companies that avail themselves of BOV’s services. “International trade is governed by universally-accepted rules but that is not enough. To be successful you need to appreciate cultural issues, perceptions and the characteristics of particular markets, and the political, economic and environmental issues in which such trade takes place. You also need to develop an instinct that warns you of risk when a transaction looks good on paper, but is not,” explains Carmel Borg. Probably the Unit’s strongest selling points are its personal approach and the flexibility that it adopts with the bank’s customers. This personal approach spreads to all the persons involved in the chain and has been instrumental in concluding deals that otherwise would have been lost. Bank of Valletta’s Trade Finance Centre is a success story. Indeed this was re-confirmed when the bank was named the Best Trade Finance Bank in Malta by Global Finance, for three years in a row. “Our achievements in this sector show our commitment to be an enabler and a long-term partner to corporates and entrepreneurs who seek to grow their business, even in times of adversity.
International trade has always been a fine balance of opportunity and risk particularly when trading across borders. Our approach in this field reflects our strategic vision – to remain forward-looking and continuously reinvent ourselves. It is only in this manner that we can truly be the financial partner of choice for our customers.” Registered Office: 58, Triq San Zakkarija, Il-Belt Valletta VLT 1130 – Malta Registration Number: C 2833. Bank of Valletta p.l.c. is a public limited company licensed to carry out the business of banking and investment services in terms of the Banking Act (Cap. 371 of the Laws of Malta) and the Investment Services Act (Cap. 370 of the Laws of Malta). cc
As our name suggests, we bring a different kind of thinking to digital We are more than just a company; we are four dedicated friends, who are also professionals in the field. We thrive on providing cutting edge digital experiences, superior customer service and making sure we get it right first time. As a result, our customers come back to us time and time again. So how do we do it? Relationships are key to everything for us, so we only work with people with whom we feel we can build a strong, lasting relationship, who believe in their and our success, and for whom the experience is a fun and exciting journey with the destination being a win for all involved. The Other Guys is based on four key areas of expertise: Web, Design, Online Marketing and Communications. In today’s fast-paced online market this allows us to
build the perfect solution and balance for your business. We pride ourselves on being competitively priced and fully engaged in our clients’ objectives, no matter how large or small the project. In 2015, digital cannot be about a website, an advert or social campaign, it’s a journey that must be managed and executed by engaged professionals who understand your business.
We ensure that all our web projects include responsive design so our clients’ online presence is always visible across the web, no matter what the device or platform. cc www.whytheotherguys.com
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EY launches its annual conference – Malta: Open for business Malta: Open for business is the chosen theme for the 11th edition of EY’s Malta attractiveness survey which will be held on 7th October at the Westin Dragonara Resort, St Julian’s. The national conference, which is now in its 11th edition, aims to bring together key public and private stakeholders in the Maltese economy to review, discuss and explore new ways for Malta to maintain its momentum at becoming the chosen hub for foreign direct investors (FDIs). Ronald Attard, Country Managing Partner EY Malta said, “EY is committed to help governments and businesses make informed investment decisions to improve their respective business environment while lightening barriers that may intercept future growth. We aim to examine our attractiveness as a country while analysing the reality and perception of FDIs which are
already operating on the island, as well as their impact on our economy.” “This year we are once again honoured to present a line-up of foreign speakers which includes Baron Peter Mandelson, Former EU Commissioner and one of the architects of Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’; Prof. Jan Peter Balkenende, Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Paul Brody, Americas Sector Strategy Leader at EY. Dr Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta, Dr Simon Busuttil, Leader of Opposition, ministers and their shadows will be present for the conference to offer their viewpoints and to discuss constructive ways forward in making Malta open for business.” The event is supported by The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and
Industry, FinanceMalta, the Malta Gaming Authority, John Taylor, HSBC Malta, GO plc, Mizzi Motors, Bank of Valletta and Malta Enterprise. cc
made, to completely replace the marina infrastructure, including installation of new mooring blocks, chains and ropes, wheelchair accessible pontoons, power and water cables, and networked utility pedestals. Wifi is available throughout the Msida & Ta’ Xbiex Marina. Access control units on every gate provide security, along with CCTV cameras, SOS pedestals and 24-hour staff patrols. The most recent phase of the project has seen a move to new offices directly behind Pontoon I on the ground floor of the Crown Marina Apartments in keeping with the overall high standard of the marina. Owners
of resident as well as visiting yachts enjoy greater ease of access, on-site high quality lavatories and showers, a clubhouse and a meeting and coffee area in comfortable and attractive five-star premises. Laundry facilities and a business centre will be launched in the coming weeks. cc
Early registration is highly recommended by sending an email to email@example.com, or online www.ey.com/mt/mas
The Msida & Ta’ Xbiex Marina – New Marina Offices Recent years have seen significant growth in the Maltese yachting industry, with demand for sheltered berths of all sizes outstripping supply. Although in part homegrown, interest has also increased substantially among visitors and expatriates seeking a new and secure base in a country with a stable political climate. Long desirable for its central and protected location, The Msida and Ta’ Xbiex Marina, operated by Creek Developments Plc since January 2011, has installed a programme of continuous improvement to provide a top quality, competitively priced product to attract and retain this expanding market over the long term. Blessed with a fantastic natural location and a majority of resident yachts, over the past five years Creek Developments Plc has been striving to ensure that standards are raised in line with the best marinas worldwide. Investment in excess of €5 million has been SEPTEMBER 2015
Creek Developments Plc, Office No 1, Crown Marina Apartments, Ta’ Xbiex Seafront, Ta’ Xbiex. For further information and reservations, T: +356 2133 7049; E: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.marinamalta.com 115
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Positive energy With Vimar home automation, life is made simple and intuitive. Now you have your home in the palm of your hand, and can manage all the functions in your home: set the desired climate, call up customised comfort settings, raise or lower the roller shutters, set the lighting and switch the intrusion detection system on or off, to give your loved ones a truly magnificent welcome.
How easy and practical it is to control all your home accesses from your iPad! Without leaving the car, a simple touch and the gate opens, the drive-in lights up, the intrusion detection system switches off and the garage lights come on. With the By-me home automation system, you can also check the pictures transmitted by the high-resolution camera that works in all weather conditions, even with no light. Vimar video door entry system lets you know who rang your bell. The system records the video door entry calls, and a warning light on the elegant wall-mounted multimedia video touch screen lets you view the calls when you want. Energy is a precious asset, and must be conserved. Greater awareness of energy consumption in the home helps us to improve our consumption habits, avoiding costly waste. The home automation touch screen displays an intuitive, clear graph showing what you are consuming, automatically switching off any devices that are connected at the time which you decide are not a priority. Special sensors detect gas leaks or flooding and, incorporated in the home automation system, send an optical and acoustic warning, sending alarm messages by text or e-mail and automatically blocking
the supply solenoids to ensure total safety in the room. Electricity is not to be fooled with. We must be able to use it safely, even in damp or wet rooms like the bathroom or kitchen, or in the garden. Even non-expert hands like those of a child must be able to plug in devices with no risk. Vimar has made safety its best seller for over 65 years, offering many solutions for temporary installations that ensure reliable and performing energy use. cc Firetech Ltd, 99, Mill Street, Qormi. T: 2278 5200; E: email@example.com; www.firetech.com.mt
Time is money Time waits for no one, even if we choose to be oblivious to the fact. If we are lucky enough, we will age gracefully, retire and hopefully be able to live comfortably. Studies have shown that people get anxious when they start ageing, especially as they get closer to retirement. But why is this so? Change may be daunting, because we don’t know what to expect next. However destiny is in our own hands and the choices we make today will shape our future. We all have dreams, big or small, of what we want to do when we are no longer working and it is up to us to make them happen. As with everything else, we need to invest in our future in order to ensure it is financially secure so we can live the life we want to. It is unreasonable to believe that the state pension alone will be enough to maintain our current lifestyle, because its core principle is to keep us out of poverty. Relying solely on the State for support in our old age means that even small luxuries we are used to today, such as eating out or taking an annual holiday may become a thing of the past. 116
But it’s not that difficult to make a difference. Spending a little time thinking about your future and making careful plans will enable you to continue your life in retirement as you would want. MSV Life’s free online retirement planning tool is simple to use and can help you get started (www. msvlife.com/myfuture). According to behavioural economist Prof. David Laibson (Harvard Magazine, 2006), people tend to procrastinate, pushing difficult and confusing decisions to the bottom of their agendas. Various studies also prove how human inclination towards instant gratification means that we are more likely
to avoid saving for retirement, because we would be able to consume less today. We must recognise that in order to be independent, to keep on doing what we love most, and to live our dreams at retirement, we need to do something about it: the earlier the better, but it’s never too late! cc For more information on how to plan for your retirement, contact MSV Life on firstname.lastname@example.org. MSV Life p.l.c. is authorised by the Malta Financial Services Authority to carry on Long Term Business under the Insurance Business Act, 1998. COM 250815/1 SEPTEMBER 2015
Where research begins Very valuable research is taking place in Malta, and RIDT is the organisation helping to fund it. Here, CEO Wilfred Kenely tells Jo Caruana why research funding is everyone’s responsibility.
ave you ever wondered how research happens? In my mind research has always been an intangible entity: a sea of people, sitting in labs somewhere, reading books on something or other, and coming up with results about everything from cure-all antidotes to ancient civilisations. I never stopped to wonder about the logistics of research, and I certainly never considered how it was being funded. But, of course, research funding is an absolutely integral part of research itself. Without the money to dedicatedly consider the intricate elements concerned with that cure-all, or that civilisation, there would be no sea of people (or singular scientist, for that matter); there would be no research. As a result, organisations across the globe have been set up to source research funding. It is their job to reach out to potential benefactors – be they massive corporate entities or generous individuals – with an interest in funding tomorrow’s research. Locally, the University of Malta’s Trust Fund for Research, Development and Innovation (RIDT) is doing exactly that and its primary aim is very simple: to increase research activity within the University. Having been set up in April 2011, it aims to strengthen investment in high-calibre research and development across every faculty and department within the University, and on a national level, and to foster the commercial exploitation of this research. “Across the world research is considered an essential component of a country’s economical development,” explains Wilfred Kenely, who joined the organisation as its first CEO in November 2011. “Naturally, though, our role does go much deeper than that, and we also work to engage with the community on the aspects that we are researching. We also work with industry, so as to discover what knowledge is needed by the corporate world and how it can then be applied. All of this works in tandem: research is necessary, so we source the funds to make it happen.”
“The most valuable thing we’ve achieved so far is awareness and, today, more and more people are realising that when we talk about research, we’re talking about research that’s happening here in Malta.” SEPTEMBER 2015
“RIDT has also helped to fund and coordinate some larger, national projects, such as the Mobile Dental Unit, which was launched in July.”
RIDT was launched with an allocation of €800,000 as seed capital, and now sources its income by attracting support from both private individuals and corporate bodies. In 2014 it raised over €400,000, and 2015 is on track to achieve the same. “Or, hopefully, better,” smiles Mr Kenely. “A huge part of our role lies in advising the public about the fact that research needs them. The most valuable thing we’ve achieved so far is awareness and, today, more and more people are realising that when we talk about research, we’re talking about research that’s happening here in Malta. “It’s fantastic to see the results of this – such as the number of PhD students being funded by the public, by NGOs or by corporates, through RIDT. This is a tangible achievement and we hope to make it happen more frequently in the future.”more frequently in the future.”
Research & Development – Malta Chamber’s Perspective The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry has gone on record numerous times stating that research and development can play a central role in rendering the country more competitive. Malta’s capability to innovate and to bring innovation successfully to the market is a crucial determinant of its ability to compete at a global level. Increasingly innovative activity is the main driver of economic progress and well-being. The World Economic Forum ranks Malta among the 35 economies classed as being in the innovation-driven stage of economic development. The EU Innovation Scoreboard 2013 ranks Malta among the moderate innovators. Between 2007 and 2012 Malta’s gross research and development expenditure as a percentage of the GDP increased from approximately 0.55 per cent to 0.72 per cent, which resulted in Malta being among the top five European countries registering a considerable growth in innovation performance (over 3 per cent) between 2008 and 2012. Although the increases are relatively modest, it demonstrates that the Government has started to address the soft and hard infrastructural deficit in research and innovation with a goal to render it a driver of Malta’s economy. The Chamber is of the considered view that Malta must become a recognised destination to international business as a hub and home for innovation and commercialisation. Business and enterprise in Malta must be in a position to raise their levels of productivity if they are to remain competitive. In its Economic Vision 2014-2020, the Malta Chamber recommends that the Government should assist business and enterprise to identify innovative business models, processes, technology, research, benchmarking and other actions directed to improve productivity. It should primarily achieve this through the setting up of a Government-AcademiaBusiness and Enterprise centre that will conduct applied research on productivity and innovation for enterprise to tap into. It should focus on different areas: growth markets; the emergence of technologies such as ‘3D Printing’ that can be leveraged by local enterprise; and other sectors which are likely to relocate or close down unless economic operators increase their productivity.
“It would also be ideal to see more corporates considering research in their CSR programmes.”
RIDT has also helped to fund and coordinate some larger, national projects, such as the Mobile Dental Unit, which was launched in July. This is essentially a dental unit on wheels, that will journey around Malta providing check-ups and advice to people – some of whom may not have been to the dentist for years. “This project is a direct example of the two-way engagement that RIDT is so keen to create,” continues Mr Kenely. “The community worked together to raise the 122
€130,000 needed to get this dental unit on the road, and now it will be going out into the community to provide a very valuable service. We were thrilled with the response from companies who donated, both in cash and in kind, to make it happen, as well as by individuals who dug deep to contribute too.” Beyond this engagement, the Mobile Dental Unit will also conduct a scientific national survey of the status of the nation’s oral health. “The latter will give current and future health care providers an invaluable
source of information about the Maltese and Gozitan population,” continues Mr Kenely. “In this respect the project becomes absolutely invaluable.” However, RIDT’s research funding doesn’t stop at health-related projects but extends to others in engineering, ICT, languages and beyond. “All this is being achieved because we have found people who believe in research and who are keen to contribute. We are very grateful to them. “This model isn’t something we have invented. Universities across Europe get funding in this way, and also generate support from alumni keen to give back to the educational institution that helped them. That said, money generated by the public shouldn’t cancel out Government investment in research. Both are necessary and will give long-term results.” Looking to the future of RIDT’s work, Mr Kenely says he would like to see more companies getting involved. “Some of our largest donations have been from the NGOs we work with – such as a donation from ALIVE that will be used specifically on child cancer research,” he says. “That’s fantastic, but it would also be ideal to see more corporates considering research in their CSR programmes. “After all, we get requests for funds from researches on a daily basis – all of which are very valid and which would thrive with the right amount of money behind them. So we will be working hard to bring in more money than ever and to make it as easy as possible for people to donate – which, incidentally, can be done through our website, where even €1 contributions are welcome! “There are already so many exciting research projects on the go – covering everything from neurology, to diabetes, to a project that aims to make the unique De Soldanis manuscript available to the general public. Funding is there for all of these projects to find their feet, and we want to do everything we can to help them come into fruition.” cc Follow RIDT’s latest news on the blog: researchtrustmalta.wordpress.com and donate through their website www.ridt.org.mt SEPTEMBER 2015