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THE COMMERCIAL/73

COURIER THE OFFICIAL BUSINESS MAGAZINE OF THE MALTA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, ENTERPRISE AND INDUSTRY SINCE 1947

SEPTEMBER 2017

A warm welcome Crafting a functional and stylish reception space

NEWSPAPER POST GOLD COLLABORATING PARTNERS

IN THIS ISSUE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR DIGITAL ECONOMY SILVIO SCHEMBRI DISCUSSES THE FUTURE OF GAMING AND FINANCIAL SERVICES / INDUSTRY LEADERS TACKLE CONSTRUCTION BOOM AND THE CHALLENGE OF RESURFACING MALTA’S ROADS / MALTA FROM THE EXPATS’ EYES / THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE MELITA-VODAFONE MALTA MERGER / FOUR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS SHARE THEIR STORIES / CYRIL SANCEREAU’S EVOCATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY / THE LATEST BUSINESS NEWS


THE COMMERCIAL/73

COURIER SEPTEMBER 2017

109.

food trends

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13 INTERVIEW RAISING THE BAR TO STAY AHEAD OF THE CURVE

93 BUSINESS

Martina Said speaks with Parliamentary Secretary responsible for financial services, digital economy and innovation Silvio Schembri to learn about the future of the local gaming and financial services sectors.

Jo Caruana meets four dynamic young entrepreneurs all eagerly pursuing their business goals within Malta’s buzzing start-up scene.

NEW BUSINESSES ON THE BLOCK

101 DEBATE 29 IN FIGURES

MELITA-VODAFONE MERGER WILL PROVE TO BE A GAME-CHANGER FOR MALTA

GAMING IN MALTA… IN NUMBERS

Manuel Zarb speaks to the CEOs of Melita, Vodafone Malta and GO, as well as the Director General of the MCCAA Competition Office, to discuss the implications of the Melita-Vodafone merger.

A look into the figures related to the local gaming industry.

31 COVER STORY Malta’s construction industry: is the sky the limit? Sarah Micallef finds out what the experts and key players in the field make of the current state of construction in Malta.

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118 DESIGN TRENDS REFLECTING AN ETHOS

79 LIFESTYLE MALTA: THE EXPAT PERSPECTIVE

46 MEET THE ARTIST WANDERING IN BETWEEN SPACES French fine art photographer Cyril Sancereau talks to Rebecca Anastasi about belonging, capturing moments in time and getting lost in the landscape.

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style review

Four professionals who’ve chosen to make Malta their home divulge their thoughts on the country to Jo Caruana.

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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. Articles appearing in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission of the publishers is strictly prohibited.

Sarah Micallef speaks to Paul Camilleri, Director of the camilleriparismode projects and design studio, about the recently completed Sullivan Maritime reception area at St Barbara Bastions in Valletta.

The Exchange, Republic Street, Valletta VLT1117 Tel: +356 2123 3873 Fax: +356 2124 5223 info@maltachamber.org.mt www.maltachamber.org.mt EDITOR

Kevin J. Borg Editorial Coordinators

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Content House Ltd Mallia Building, 3, Level 2, Triq in-Negozju, Mriehel BKR3000

PUBLICATION Sales MANAGER

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ON THE COVER Detail from new Sullivan Maritime reception area by camilleriparismode projects and design studio. Photo by Sean Mallia.

Malta chamber’s bronze collaborating partners SEPTEMBER 2017

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CC Editorial

Enabling SMEs to reach new heights It is well-known that the smaller enterprises operating in our economy make up the bulk of economic operators. This ratio between small and larger businesses holds true even when considering the economy on a wider, European scale, as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are often described as being the backbone of the economy.

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he Malta Chamber is fully aware of this reality, and while larger enterprises maintain an important position within the focus of the organisation, the Chamber acknowledges that SMEs are not only the backbone of the economy today, but are also the future – possibly the larger enterprises of the economy tomorrow. With the advent of digitalisation and the ready availability of tools such as the web, businesses are getting smaller as start-ups sprout in basements and the most unexpected places, reaching heights previously unimaginable. The maxim that all one needs is a good idea and sheer determination was never truer than today. Young entrepreneurs, barely out of formal education, are literally taking the economic scene by storm. In the

SEPTEMBER 2017

past few years we have witnessed start-ups operating in innovative ways, shifting their operations online, reaching new markets and reaping considerable rewards. This drive for innovation has brought about new economic growth as young entrepreneurs continue to challenge themselves and shift the goalposts of the game. We have all read how the internet has revolutionised taxi services, holiday lodging and the entertainment business. SMEs are characteristically quick to pounce on new opportunities created by disruptive technologies. These are the sectors of the future. This is the economy of the future. The Malta Chamber is fully aware of this tremendous groundswell and closely follows the incredible feats these young entrepreneurs are achieving.

“Young entrepreneurs, barely out of formal education, are literally taking the economic scene by storm.�

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CC Editorial Through its online news portal maltachamber.org.mt, the Malta Chamber regularly talks with, and exposes emerging Maltese young entrepreneurs who are building businesses from the ground up. From providing healthy food alternatives, to bespoke jewellery design, fashion, taxi services, quality fast food and myriad other business ideas, young people are carving out and filling specific niches, in a modern society that reflects the ambitions and aspirations of 2017 Malta. The Chamber is intent on harnessing the incredible energy these young entrepreneurs are exerting and helping them reach even higher goals. In fact, the Malta Chamber has recently launched a complimentary membership scheme for young entrepreneurs, up till the age of 35. The Malta Chamber also wants to encourage young people to take the exciting plunge into the business world. In a growing economy, opportunities are abundant and the Malta Chamber is positioning itself to take aspiring business people by the hand in their fledgling first steps.

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In fact, during an event which the Chamber is organising as part of this year’s European SME Week, in collaboration with Bank of Valletta plc, the Malta Chamber shall be launching an SME tool kit aimed at assisting startups through their first steps of business planning, market research, marketing, obtaining finance and so forth. During the same event, successful young business persons will deliver presentations to empower and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and take their first steps. In tandem with this, the Malta Chamber is also supporting the excellent work done by Junior Achievement Young Enterprise (JAYE) who every year work closely with students showing an aptitude for enterprise through their academic year programme and annual competition. More specifically, the Malta Chamber is pleased to support the ‘Leaders for a Day’ initiative which sees aspiring young people shadowing CEOs from Malta’s business elite for a day, attending board meetings,

absorbing the high-level stakes of a day in the life of Malta’s top-most tier in the private sector. Already hugely successful last year, the programme will run again this year and is being offered to a larger number of participants. Through these initiatives and others, the Malta Chamber wants to be the catalyst that enables aspiring entrepreneurs to take the courageous first steps into the business world, as well as helping young businesses to look beyond their current reach. Without losing focus on the macro, small businesses are the future, and the Chamber wants to be the reference point for young entrepreneurs in their first years. cc The event aimed at young and aspiring entrepreneurs, which will include the launch of the SME tool kit in collaboration with BOV plc, as part of the European SME Week 2017, will take place at the Malta Chamber in Valletta on 4th October at 2pm. Registration on Cheryl.cardona@maltachamber.org.mt.

SEPTEMBER 2017


CC INTERVIEW

Photos by the Parliamentary Secretariat for Financial Services, Digital Economy & Innovation

Raising the bar to stay ahead of the curve The gaming and financial services industries have long established themselves as key pillars of Malta’s economy. But with ever-changing regulations, constantly emerging technologies and countries competing for a slice of the cake, can Malta stay ahead of the game? Martina Said speaks with Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri, responsible for financial services, digital economy and innovation, to find out.

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he direct contribution of the gaming industry to the Maltese economy is estimated to amount to over €1 billion, and in 2016, represented circa 12 per cent of Malta’s Gross Domestic Product, says Silvio Schembri, Parliamentary Secretary for financial services, digital economy and innovation. In terms of direct employment, gaming is responsible for around 9,000 jobs within firms in the sector and associated businesses. “These figures are the direct effect of the industry,” he says. “When considering the induced effects, the contribution is much higher.” Mr Schembri asserts that the gaming sector that operated in Malta 10 years ago, or even of five years ago, is significantly different to that which is in operation

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today, where, over the decade, it not only managed to grow to become one of the most important sectors in the country’s economy, but also managed to evolve. “Initially based on an attractive tax system, Malta now has one of the most complete eco-systems in this regard, making the country highly competitive. Firms in the gaming sector can benefit from a talented pool of people plus excellent support in terms of ancillary inputs.” In 2017, further growth in the sector is expected. While Mr Schembri says it’s premature to predict a specific figure in terms of expected growth, the indicators are “very positive, with double digit growth in employment, and with a notable increase in the number of licences issued. This growth is also expected to continue in 2018, as we’re

expecting new investment attracted by the revamped regulatory environment. Expectations with respect to land-based operators are also positive.” The revamped regulatory framework emerges following the publication of a White Paper by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) last July, which proposed reforms to existing gaming legislation, with the aim of replacing current legislation with a single act called the Gaming Act. The need for such changes emerged in line with the way the industry evolved over the last decade, as Mr Schembri explains, highlighting the need to take a new look at the opportunities and threats facing the industry, and act on them by seeking a forward-looking repositioning of Malta’s licensing activities. 13


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“Initially based on an attractive tax system, Malta now has one of the most complete gaming eco-systems, making the country highly competitive.” “The aim is straightforward: modernising the gaming framework and embracing the future through well thought-out processes, the promotion of more streamlined regulations, and narrowing the gap between technology and current legislation. Once completed, this exercise should see the development of new business areas and will be a key element to enhance the international reputation of the Maltese jurisdiction.” More concretely, the regulatory scope of gaming services under the new legislation shall be wider and more coherent, Mr Schembri explains, meaning that all activities falling under the MGA’s governance remit will be subjected to a licensing requirement. The proposed reforms will also be underpinned by better monitoring of risk and equipped with new reporting facilities adopted to cater for this improved risk management process. “Concurrently with the proposed reforms, the MGA together with the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) published another document, ‘Application of AntiMoney Laundering and Countering the Funding of Terrorism Obligation of the Remote Gaming Sector’. This will install a risk-based approach which recognises that the risks faced by each sector and each subject are different, and allows for resources to be invested and applied where they are required most. This system is diametrically opposed to a prescriptive tickbox approach, which can set firms back from growing and progressing.” As for another major economic contributor, the financial services sector has been mirroring the growth of the gaming industry in recent years, becoming another main pillar of Malta’s economy. Such is its importance that, for the very first time, it formed part of a new Government portfolio handled by the Prime Minister with the assistance of Parliamentary Secretary Schembri within the Office of the Prime Minister. “The growth of this industry was made possible through a robust regulatory support infrastructure that offers access to a full range of banking, insurance and investment products. However, the financial sector is highly dynamic,” he asserts. “For Malta to consolidate its current position and further develop its potential to become an attractive alternative to the world’s main international financial centres, its regulatory body – in this case, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) – must continue to evolve.” 14

“The direct share of the financial services industry amounts to around seven per cent of our GDP. Additionally, during 2016, FDI in the form of financial and insurance activities increased by almost €0.5 billion.” The main aim, he continues, is to streamline the MFSA’s operations, making it more responsive to the needs of the operators, and putting the right structures in place for a regulatory framework that is more proactive in the anticipation of new developments, such as Fintech. “Industry players should expect a more pragmatic, risk-

based approach, leading to an environment that is more conducive to innovation.” In 2016, the financial services industry in Malta continued to be a strong contributor to the local economy, “despite worldwide events that dampened the international financial sectors, including increased pressure towards tax harmonisation,” says Mr Schembri. SEPTEMBER 2017


CC INTERVIEW

“According to official figures, the direct share of this industry amounts to around seven per cent of our GDP. Additionally, during 2016, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the form of financial and insurance activities increased by almost €0.5 billion.” Based on lead indicators such as employment figures, new licences, and demand for office space as well as direct feedback, it appears that 2017 will maintain the same levels of growth as last year. “This is very positive, considering that earlier in the year, statements were made in the run-up to the country’s general election which could have had a negative impact on this sector. However, it appears that, as a country, we’ve moved past this, and there’s recognition that the consensus over this industry enjoyed for the last two decades must be maintained.” Novel developments in the world of financial services – such as blockchain, cryptocurrencies and Fintech – are not only emerging, but starting to lead the way forward, proven by the constant need to evolve and stay ahead of the game in terms of regulation and infrastructural support. Is Malta ready to handle such developments? “As a country, we have a track record for being extremely good at adapting ourselves to new developments. We managed to SEPTEMBER 2017

restructure our financial services industry in such a way as to remain attractive, while being fully in line with both the EU and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). More recently, Malta saw the development of cell companies in insurance and securitisation, and the notified Alternative Investment Funds,” says Mr Schembri. “Now, the next step is to make the most of such new technology. The adoption of blockchain technology is one of the main targets of this Parliamentary Secretariat, and in the coming months, a full strategy will be published. We need to be careful and yet very nimble. Getting this right will mean having the first mover advantage, and these new developments can have a massive positive impact on our future.” Moving on to developments surrounding Brexit, a number of UK-based companies have, in recent months, expressed their intentions to move their operations to another EU country, and the primary city of choice appears to be Frankfurt, followed closely by Dublin. Asked if Malta is succeeding at attracting its share of industry players to its shores, Mr Schembri says that the decision made by UK companies to relocate their operations is based on several factors.

“The adoption of blockchain technology is one of the main targets of this Parliamentary Secretariat, and in the coming months, a full strategy will be published.”

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CC INTERVIEW

“Attracting business to our shores [as a result of Brexit] doesn’t happen overnight. It is primarily about adopting a probusiness approach.”

SEPTEMBER 2017

“The major challenges that Malta is facing in this area are mainly related to some of the firms’ preference to be closer to the ‘centre’,” he asserts. “However, our size does have several advantages in that we can react more rapidly to firms’ needs, and our assistance can be tailor-made to their requirements. In reality, some of the big names in the financial services sector have not yet announced how they plan to migrate from the UK. Some already have operations in many other major European cities, which makes it easier for them to transfer operations where they already have a presence.” However, he states that the approach adopted by Malta to offer companies the best possible package to move here is a proactive yet respectful one. “Through this approach, we managed to attract insurance giant Starr that chose Malta after Brexit. I can assure you that the competition from other European countries was harsh, but we managed to convince them to come to Malta. Attracting business to our shores doesn’t happen overnight. It is primarily about adopting a pro-business approach and, based on ongoing negotiations, I am

confident that Starr will not be the only company looking to move here.” As for future challenges foreseen in these key industries, Mr Schembri optimistically points out that wherever there are challenges there are also opportunities, and it’s the latter that should drive the country forward. “Pragmatic regulation, creative innovation and service diversification should be constants in anything we do. Malta also needs to maintain its high-level standards of due diligence, and procedures should remain rigorous and, where necessary, enforced. The final aim should be to attract the right type of business.” Mr Schembri concludes that the coming months should see the consolidation of efforts aimed at strengthening both the MGA and the MFSA. “I am confident the reforms will lead to greater efficiency overall, and will make both authorities lead agents in making Malta a centre of excellence in their respective areas. Also, later this year, Government should be in a position to announce more information on how we intend to make full use of blockchain technology and its various applications, such as Fintech and cryptocurrencies.” cc

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CC economy

The Midas touch iGaming and financial services have taken centre stage within Malta’s economy, generating a sizeable portion of the GDP and sharing similar challenges, including the stringency and mutability of regulatory systems, emerging technologies, and finding the right workforce for specialised tasks. Six financial services and gaming companies based in Malta discuss how they overcome these obstacles, the impact that Brexit is expected to have on their industries as a whole, and their plans for the future.

Charles Scerri

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Ulrik Bengtsson Mark Attard

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David Farrugia Simon Camilleri

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Dennis Mark Gauci SEPTEMBER 2017

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BDO MALTA – Mark Attard, CEO “BDO offers specialist expertise in most aspects of company management, corporate services, taxation, accounting, auditing, and administration. Our clients are serviced by a multi-disciplinary team, organised into seven support units: Audit and Assurance, Corporate Services, Legal, Risk & Compliance, Business Outsourcing and Accounting, Tax Consultancy and Compliance, and Business Development. With over 35 years’ of practice in Malta, BDO has learnt to take the time and make an effort to understand our clients’ businesses and markets. Our partners and staff are specialists in their fields and have a proactive, flexible approach to helping clients to overcome the challenges they face. Through our own professional expertise and by working directly with businesses, we’ve developed a unique insight into what makes a business successful. It is this insight that makes us true business advisers, rather than mere financial consultants.” What kind of clients do you typically service? We are geared to offer a full range of services to all our clients in different sectors. Our clients range from banking, real estate and capital markets to insurance and gaming, to name a few. Our internal structure is designed to allow our resources to provide services to various markets through our specialised expertise.

The world of financial services is becoming increasingly regulated – how do you stay updated with all the latest developments? It became apparent to us years ago that the financial world would become increasingly regulated, and for this reason we invested in setting up our Legal and Risk and Compliance departments. Within such a demanding regulatory framework, these departments are encouraged to strive for compliance that is congruent with our company’s objectives and risk management strategies. Moreover, our risk advisory professionals already work with our clients to define, execute, and monitor their risk management strategies, and, thus, ensure that we all meet the latest developments in compliance requirements within the financial services industry. The finance industry is booming in Malta – what do you think gives BDO an edge over other financial services companies? At BDO we take the time to get to know our client – we have a vested interest in our client and their business, and that’s where we combine our skills to provide a solution which appropriately fulfils their particular needs. Apart from getting to know our client, we also make it a point to look into the different ways of how we can add more value to their business without compromising the quality of our work. For us at BDO Malta, it doesn’t

just stop at providing a client with a specific service, we like to offer our clients a more holistic approach to their business through our knowledge of their sector. Our focus on our clients’ needs is our edge over competition and our most important company value – Client First. What’s the biggest challenge that BDO has ever faced, and what has been its proudest moment? Since we offer knowledge-based services, our greatest challenge in today’s growing financial services sector is finding new talent and retaining our experienced staff. Our greatest success would be how we managed to become known as a firm that provides a full range of services, whilst retaining our reputation for ‘Exceptional Client Service’, as our company slogan says. We know we are doing something right when our clients are proud to recommend us as service providers to our potential new clients.

CHARLES SCERRI AND ASSOCIATES – Charles Scerri, Managing Partner “Charles Scerri & Associates (CSA) has been in practice since 1995. The firm is an established multi-disciplinary audit firm based in Malta, which provides accounting and book-keeping services, audit and assurance, taxation, financial advisory, corporate services and residency programmes. Our clients include companies operating in the agricultural, computer, construction, education, energy, entertainment, food, financial services, healthcare, hospitality, information, manufacturing, shipping, and transport industries. We take pride in our clients’ success and try to combine professional knowledge, integrity and an entrepreneurial approach to their needs. This enables us to provide tailormade solutions to individual business needs thanks to our professional and qualified staff. CSA is a member of two important networks: IAPA and Allinial Global.” The finance industry is booming in Malta – what do you think gives Charles Scerri and Associates an edge over other financial services companies? Response time and the level of service are 22

what we boast of. We strive to know our clients individually, mainly through faceto-face interface as well as continuous contact with the owners and directors of our client entities. Our offices provide a onestop-shop to our clientele with exceptional well-trained staff on situational problem solving techniques. Furthermore, our risk and compliance department provides us with the first line of defence to ensure that the firm is in line with the requirements of the industry. How should Malta position itself so that its financial services industry can take full advantage of Brexit? While it is still too early to anticipate what exactly will be happening in the coming months regarding the UK’s exit from the European Union, as a country, Malta has a key stake in positioning itself as an attractive alternative for those businesses that would like to operate in the European Union. In addition, Malta might attract more high-networth individuals who are seeking residency elsewhere. Thus, through the various residency programmes and advantageous

tax incentives, Malta provides an incredible gateway to Europe. What’s next for Charles Scerri and Associates? CSA is now focusing on attracting clients from the US market. Together with its foreign partners, CSA endeavours to route US clients’ businesses through the Maltese jurisdiction rather than the natural destinations commonly used by US entrepreneurs. By continuously investing in technology and new concepts, CSA intends to increase its local and foreign client base alike. SEPTEMBER 2017


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BETSSON – Ulrik Bengtsson, CEO and President “Betsson came to Malta in 2004 and has been growing ever since. Malta was the first country in the EU to introduce a gaming regulation that serious iGaming operators could use to compete with monopolies around Europe. When Betsson decided to start offering its games online, Malta was the natural choice. The island continues to offer regulatory robustness and a business

friendly environment and remains a top gaming jurisdiction. Betsson’s aim is to stay, and continue to grow on the island.” Gaming companies in Malta continue to flourish – besides its size and resources, what does Betsson have that’s unique when compared to other betting companies? Betsson’s size brings with it an incredible amount of benefits. The company attracts people from across the world coming from varying backgrounds with a wealth of experience in different fields. Betsson has become the undisputed talent factory in Malta. A lot of people start their careers in gaming with us, where they receive the best training and are exposed to colleagues from across a wide range of industries. Joining Betsson means becoming part of a truly international company with great colleagues from 48 nationalities, working in departments across the board from software developing to product building to marketing, legal and finance. Betsson offers employees the chance to grow personally and professionally through challenging tasks and the opportunity to have an international career in a fast-growing company. However, a big challenge is finding the right people for the job, which is faced by many companies, not only in gaming but also in different sectors.

What are the factors that contribute to Betsson’s success? Betsson is a success story supported by the many achievements of our employees, who push the boundaries when it comes to offering our customers a seamless, intuitive and rewarding experience on our sites. Regulation and compliance is important to everything Betsson does, so staying on top of developments within regulation and keeping up with compliance are key factors to our success. The company recently made significant investments in its mobile casino operation – can you tell us more about that? In 2016, we made a step change in our product development and launched a very successful new mobile Casino. In fact Betsson offers the world’s largest mobile casino. We have also launched a new mobile sportsbook which is faster and easier to use. What will the company do next? Betsson is in a very exciting place and the next few years will see us grow even further. We are in a business with almost perpetual growth. Online gaming is less than 15 per cent of total gaming today and even if it doubles in ten years, there would still be much growth to be had.

CREDITINFO – Simon Camilleri, CEO “Creditinfo is an international risk/data management company operating in 27 countries specialising in small and developing countries all over the word. Creditinfo enables companies to trade safely with other businesses and individuals, locally and internationally, and to be informed of potential risks. Our clients range from large banking organisations to the shopkeeper on the corner. Our products and services are aimed at any organisation that deals with credit, has staff or simply trades locally or internationally. Our customers can access reports and information via the web 24/7 with an easy-to-use no-nonsense approach. As an organisation, we also provide staff vetting services, marketing lists, data cleaning and much more. This year we have celebrated our 20th anniversary.” Creditinfo has quite an international dimension – how does that help you when servicing your clients? Creditinfo has a saying – ‘local knowledge, international experience’. This international experience is used by our team for the benefit of our customers every day. Normally, SEPTEMBER 2017

due to the size of Malta, high-end products and services which are being provided as the norm in larger countries can prove to be restrictive due to the amount of investment and research required. Being an international company means we can provide such products to the local market at relatively low prices. Why is risk management essential for businesses of all sizes? No company can afford to lose money or act as a bank for another business which is not paying its bills. The basic concept of business is the same regardless of size. Risk management used to be seen as a luxury, but today, due to the nature of the modern market place with lots of international trade and free movement of individuals between countries, information is now more important than ever to help companies make the right choices, regardless of size. What can Malta do to ensure that its financial services engine keeps firing on all cylinders? I feel Malta is moving in the right direction

and has the necessary infrastructure and laws in place to help financial services grow further. The challenge I see is for companies to appreciate that they need to carry out due diligence and background checks, not because they have to but because their businesses will benefit from doing so. Gone are the days when one knew everyone. Malta needs to take these things seriously for other foreign organisations to look favourably towards Malta and invest further. The financial sector growth has been strong and will continue to be as long as caution and prudence are combined with calculated risk. 25


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DFK MALTA – David Farrugia, Director, Legal and Tax Advisory “DFK Malta is a medium-sized audit and accountancy firm which was established in 1990 as Farrugia, Farrugia & Co. It joined DFK International, a worldwide association of independent accounting firms and business advisers, as a full member in 1998 and is the Maltese member firm of DFK International. The firm has grown considerably over the years and now provides a full range of services to various clients. We provide our services through three separate entities that form part of the same group. The services that we provide today are reflective of what a business typically requires in today’s world, including audit and assurance, tax services (compliance and advisory – including VAT), accounting and advisory (including payroll accounting and support), business advisory services, corporate advisory and support services, residence advisory services and liquidation and dissolution services.” How does being part of an international organisation help you provide a better service to your clients? DFK International is currently present in 92 countries around the world, from Argentina to Japan, with its global presence constantly increasing. This is extremely beneficial in today’s globalised world, where for instance a client may require fiscal or corporate advice in various jurisdictions in connection

with a single transaction. Furthermore, we also benefit from the various international conferences, activities and literature (technical handbooks and guidance) that are organised and provided by DFK International on a regular basis. Being a member of DFK International enables our organisation to benefit from technical assistance from our member firms around the globe. The financial services world is becoming increasingly regulated – how do you stay updated with all the latest developments? The financial world is extremely dynamic. A client’s regulatory requirements may change overnight, particularly when one considers the current international tax scenario and the ever-changing and increasing AML (AntiMoney Laundering) requirements. Like many organisations in our sector, we try to keep up to date by regularly monitoring legal notices and legislative measures and guidance notes as soon as they are published. Members of our specialised departments also attend and participate in various seminars and conferences that deal with specific technical matters. How can businesses benefit from subcontracting compliance functions to specialist firms such as DFK? In today’s world, compliance requirements

are always increasing and changing, and hence it may prove costly (both timewise and financially) to companies and traders if such requirements are not addressed. By subcontracting all these activities to a specialist provider, such businesses are able to concentrate on their core activities in order to enhance their growth. What’s next for DFK Malta? Our firm is currently restructuring its corporate support services department and tax department. This is being undertaken with a view to align the operations of these departments with the requirements of our foreign clients and local clients that seek specialized tax services, both corporate and for individuals.

KSi MALTA – Dennis Mark Gauci, Partner “KSi Malta is one of Malta’s leading audit, tax and advisory firms, and provides a wide range of services to both local and international clients. Our flexible approach enables all parties to be involved during all processes that directly lead to the advancement of every client’s business objectives. KSi Malta draws on its ample experience in order to assist local businesses

to grow as well as supporting international companies interested in establishing themselves and operating in or through Malta. KSi Malta is an associate member of Morison KSi, a global association of leading professional services firms, established to meet the cross-border accounting, auditing, tax and business consulting needs of clients.” What kind of clients typically make use of your services? KSi Malta services many different clients from various sectors. Our customers range from sole entrepreneurs to multi-national companies that have linked business beyond our shores. We offer a one-stop-shop solution to all our clients and give a tailor-made service that is built around their specific needs. The industries we service include pharmaceuticals, iGaming, yachting, aviation, citizenship, construction, and manufacturing just to mention a few. How does KSi set itself apart from other financial services companies? KSi Malta fosters a culture where family values are at the forefront of our code of

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conduct, and we treat our clients as members of our extended family and not just a number, in fact, our directors are available to customers on a 24/7 basis. The fact that we listen attentively to the needs of our clients and tailor our work to suit their requirements wherever possible, gives KSi Malta a distinctive feature that allows us to build longlasting relationships with them. Our business development team also plays a pivotal role in our success. We take a proactive approach with our customers and seek niche markets on behalf of our clients which are then explored and developed in synergy.   Do you think Brexit is having any kind of financial impact on Malta and its financial services industry? As part of Morison KSi which is based in Great Britain, we are in continuous contact with our network head office in London to not only see how Brexit is affecting them, but also to see whether KSi Malta can offer its support, to them and to their clients who may wish to relocate away from the UK or see Malta as an opportunity to extend the services that they already offer in the UK. cc SEPTEMBER 2017


CCCC COVER in IN INTERVIEW figures FIGURES STORY

IN Figures

Gaming in Malta

12%

The direct gross value added generated by the gaming industry to Malta’s GDP, amounting to around €1.2 billion every year.

8,000 The approximate number of people directly employed within the gaming industry in Malta.

70%

The percentage of nonMaltese people working in the gaming industry.

30%

490

The number of remote gaming licences from Malta on issue.

€466,000 The remote gaming tax capping per licensee per remote gaming licence each year.

OVER

270

The approximate number of gaming companies in operation in Malta.

2

The number of licenses which the MGA is considering granting to each company to replace the current multi-licence system, which requires some companies to hold up to 13 different licenses at a time for different activities.

Million

The amount paid in income tax and other contributions and taxes by remote gaming employees alone.

14

Million The number of active accounts for remote gaming companies registered in Malta.

47.6%

The percentage of the €34.6bn of online gaming gross win (stakes minus winnings) generated globally which is attributable to the EU market. Source: Malta International Airport

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29

Source: Gozo In Figures, National Statistics Office, Malta

Although figures are still lower than the European average, the iGaming industry in Malta tends to offer remuneration that is up to a third higher than other industries in Malta.

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CC COVER STORY

Malta’s construction industry: is the sky the limit? With works in progress seemingly around every corner, the boom in the local construction industry is hard to miss, but what do the experts and key players in the field make of the current state of construction in Malta? Sarah Micallef finds out.

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he current state of the construction industry is widely recognised as very busy and healthy,” says David Xuereb, CEO of QPM Ltd. Pointing out that most development has mainly focused on the construction of buildings, he laments however that there is disproportional low activity in supporting infrastructural projects, which he believes are badly needed. “During the last four years, the property market has experienced an unprecedented increase in development of residential units, hotel upgrades, office space SEPTEMBER 2017

and retail volumes throughout Malta and Gozo,” he maintains. Speculating on the main factors that have contributed to this success, Perit Xuereb feels that this boom does not lie in isolation. “Considerable economic activity driven by the country’s financial services, tourism and gaming industries among others have done much to boost confidence in the investment value of the industry product, and this has partly driven this boom. All these economic opportunities and industries which include the construction industry

are complementary and this is considered positive,” he says. Angelo Xuereb, Chairman at AX Holdings, believes that Malta’s construction industry has always been one of the main motors of the Maltese economy, maintaining, “we have experienced that when the construction sector was healthy, the Maltese economy was healthy. One must keep in mind that the construction industry incorporates many other affiliated professions and trades, all the way from notaries and lawyers to estate agents and furniture movers.” 31


CC COVER STORY

“The country seeks to improve its product and attract increased investment towards it, but buildings alone will not do this.” David Xuereb, CEO, QPM Ltd

Crediting the increase in tourism-related activities and sustained growth in the financial and gaming industries with having generated more demand for hotels, office space and residential property, it is Mr Xuereb’s view that these have created a multiplier effect in all other services. Nazzareno Vassallo, Chairman at Vassallo Group is in agreement, stating, “private development is booming to cope with the seemingly high demand for upmarket residential properties, offices and other commercial outlets,” but lamenting that it is increasingly difficult to find construction workers and supervisors to cope with the demand. Looking into the factors contributing to this demand, Mr Vassallo cites Malta’s accession to the EU and the adoption of the euro as having increased its profile, as well as a favourable tax system for foreign investors. “New economic sectors like those related to gaming and finance have helped create a very good property rental market for both offices and residences. The property market has also been given a big boost by the Individual Investor Programme currently in operation in Malta as well as by the substantial increase in the amount of foreign nationals residing in Malta,” he affirms.

Yet while the construction industry is undoubtedly going through a boom, will this positive scenario persist in the long term? While there is no crystal ball to predict what will happen in the future, Perit Xuereb maintains, it is important to note that any industry, including construction, needs to grow sustainably and intelligently. “I am no economist, but I do know that a free market industry will correct any ‘over’ and ‘slow’ activity in one way or another. It is very important that the industry will seek to respect the environment it works within and the community it provides for. It is important that this is done in an honest and professional manner,” he continues. According to AX Holdings’ Mr Xuereb, given the present demand, the prospects of the construction industry remain positive for the foreseeable future. “There is a Maltese saying ‘is-suq isuq’ (the market dictates). As long as there is the demand, the activity will continue. No one wants to continue developing if there is no market for 32

SEPTEMBER 2017


CC COVER STORY it. Here, we need to be careful not to ‘kill the goose that lays the golden egg’,” he warns, affirming that when the demand is higher than the supply, prices will increase, but there is always a limit as to how much one can increase prices to keep up the demand. “The bottom line is that if we outprice ourselves, we should expect a slowdown,” he says. Moving on to Malta’s infrastructure, I ask whether enough is being done to bring it up to scratch, in light of the various new, large-scale developments taking place. Perit Xuereb’s reply is a resounding ‘no’. “The rate of development of small, medium and large scale projects in the country has not been matched and coordinated with parallel improvements in infrastructure,” he states, maintaining that this will be further compounded with the planned large-scale projects coming on stream. “The country seeks to improve its product and attract increased investment towards it, but buildings alone will not do this. We need suitable, safe and good capacity infrastructure that needs to be planned and developed with medium-to-long-term objectives in mind. This is what successful countries have effectively planned and implemented over many years. We need to emulate similar projections and this is to be planned by qualified and knowledgeable organisations that can truly study, project and plan for these needs professionally. This planning should certainly not be carried out piecemeal,” he quips. Mr Xuereb agrees, noting that Malta’s general infrastructure needs to improve in line with new better-quality development. “I am appalled to see high-end development being serviced by basic and unreliable infrastructure. Malta is very small, therefore our infrastructure can be upgraded in a relatively short period of time, subject to availability of funds. Government’s balance sheet is very healthy, therefore funds should not be a major problem at this stage,” he argues. Admitting that while Government, partly through EU funds, has invested heavily in waste management, water and sewage treatment, arterial roads and power over the past few years, Mr Vassallo feels that transport remains an issue. “A long-term strategy needs to be put in place and address issues relating to mass transit and traffic management,” he says. Apart from the traffic, Malta’s roads have been a bone of contention among the public for some time, and Government has made a strong commitment to resurface all of Malta’s roads in seven years. But is this doable? And are there enough contractors to do the job? “It is with great satisfaction that we now have a national commitment to improve the state of our roads and their surroundings,” Perit Xuereb affirms, and is confident that SEPTEMBER 2017

once such objectives have been set, tangible ways of how to achieve this are to be set in motion. “Roads are not just about the ‘macadam’ surfaces, but are to do with the various services running underneath or beside them, stability of sub-structure, surface water drainage, safety, landscaping, etc. It also has to do with traffic diversion and

management of the affected stakeholders. Local contracting capacity has increased and the quality of delivery has improved significantly over the years. Road contractors in Malta are to rise to the occasion and prove to all stakeholders, including the public, that they are truly committed to this Governmentset objective.”

“As long as there is the demand, the activity will continue. No one wants to continue developing if there is no market for it.” Angelo Xuereb, Chairman, AX Holdings 35


CC COVER STORY While maintaining that re-surfacing Malta’s roads in seven years is a major challenge, Mr Xuereb considers that not all roads need to be reconstructed from the foundations, and believes that re-surfacing can be completed even earlier than seven years. “All that is needed is good planning and possibly the engagement of Maltese contractors alongside overseas contractors, but yes, this target can be met. However, the major challenge we face is not just the resurfacing of the roads, but the total reform of our public transportation system so as to encourage people to make less use of their private cars. We also need to address

“Private development is booming to cope with the seemingly high demand for upmarket residential properties, offices and other commercial outlets.” Nazzareno Vassallo, Chairman, Vassallo Group 36

the bottlenecks in our roads network which require immediate attention. We must have a master plan for roads and transport infrastructure with short-, medium- and longterm solutions,” he asserts. Mr Vassallo also feels that re-surfacing the roads is only part of the solution, though it will, of course, make a difference. “Planners should continue working on major intersections as well as introduce more tidal lanes on existing arterial roads prone to congestion during rush hours. As to whether there are enough contractors to do the job, I believe such contractors face similar problems to those we face vis-à-vis human resources. However, I am sure that Government is factoring this in its plans to roll-out this major project.” Looking to the future of the local construction industry, Perit Xuereb believes it is positive. “Over my 26 years of experience working in this field, I have experienced ever-improved developer-driven projects and improved quality of delivery by contractors,” he says, affirming that projects have become ever more complex and standards have improved significantly. “I see a future for the industry set in the development of projects that use far less resources to be built and will use far less resources to operate. Projects are expected to move the industry strongly into the field of sustainability and low carbon. This is the field I firmly believe will carve the future for the industry,” he continues. Mr Xuereb also feels that the industry will continue to be healthy for the foreseeable future. “Given these prospects, I feel that our education system needs to address the serious shortage of students ready to take up managerial positions in this industry, which employs about 37,000 workers, and accounts for around 20 per cent of the national GDP,” he advises. And certainly, as Mr Vassallo concludes, with no indications that construction activity is going to slow down in the foreseeable future and confidence in the local economy, “one would expect the boom to continue, with several large-scale developments in the pipeline.” cc SEPTEMBER 2017


CC PROPERTY

Lettings: A dynamic growth market At RE/MAX, the lettings sector has grown to impressive heights, with exciting new properties coming onto the market every day. Here, regional lettings manager Edward Agius and newly-appointed assistant regional lettings manager Michaela Tabone talk Jo Caruana through the latest developments.

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he RE/MAX lettings team is currently one of the company’s busiest; after all, the lettings sector is thriving. At its helm as regional manager, Edward Agius has overseen its development in recent years with an impressive growth structure that has seen it come to employ nearly 40 agents, with plans to up this to 60 in the months to come. Beyond that, experienced lettings agent Michaela Tabone was recently promoted to assistant regional lettings manager, to help the company build on the potential that the sector has to offer. “We have seen the demand for rental property go through the roof, both in the residential and commercial sectors,” explains Edward, adding that the RE/MAX lettings team now has a strong base within the company’s Portomaso headquarters. “So, with that in mind, we knew we needed to expand the management team to ensure we had the very best resources in place to not only cope with the demand we have, but to be ready for the next phase. Thus, Michaela’s appointment marks an important stage in the department’s development and a key milestone in our growth – she has the experience, contacts and drive to be a true asset to myself, the company and our team.” Michaela has watched the lettings sector completely transform in the 12 years since she first joined it. “Demand has really spiralled in the last couple of years, especially in the commercial sector,” she says. “A lot of that demand relates to the gaming sector, or comes from companies

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linked to it, as well as to financial services in general, which is also on the increase. These entities have very specific requests and requirements in mind, and the real estate industry has had to evolve to meet them.” In the last two to three years, Malta has also attracted a number of companies that employ over 500 people, which has also created new demands. “The challenge lies in finding a large enough space to suit, as they are quite hard to come by in the more sought after areas,” Michaela continues. “However, a number of new commercial blocks are currently being built and will come onto the market in the coming years.” But even once the team has found the right office space for a company, the agent’s role doesn’t stop there. “We provide a truly holistic service and help manage a huge variety of our clients’ relocation needs,” Michaela continues. “From finding rental accommodation for their employees to helping them choose the right internet supplier, ours is a concierge service that provides a one-stop-shop approach to getting settled in Malta. We find that our clients are very appreciative of this added support when moving to the island.” Another key trend has been companies choosing to rent spaces that are much larger than the ones they actually need at the moment – so that they can grow into them, and sublet the space in the interim. “Previously, companies would rent a space according to their current needs,” Edward says. “But, this was making it harder for them to find the next level up when they grew and

“At RE/MAX our concierge service provides a one-stopshop approach to getting settled in Malta.”

SEPTEMBER 2017


CC PROPERTY

needed to move after a couple of years. This solution works really well, as they can take all the time they need to grow into the space, and share the rental costs with other, smaller companies in the meantime.” Location is also key, with most companies wanting their staff to be located in rental accommodation that’s easily accessible from offices in Sliema or St Julian’s – although some renters are now willing to look further afield. “Many have realised that those areas are saturated so they’re looking at other options. Mriehel, Birkirkara, Mosta and Qormi are all up-and-coming and in-demand,” Michaela says. Looking to the future of how Malta’s rental SEPTEMBER 2017

market will continue to evolve, both Michaela and Edward believe Brexit could prove important for Malta. “A few companies have already moved to Malta in light of the Brexit referendum and, if it does happen, I think there will be more that move here,” Edward says. Both also believe that Malta continues to be a very appealing option for international investment, for a variety of reasons. “Foreigners are attracted to the weather, the tax system and the lifestyle – although we are all very busy, we still live quite a laid-back existence compared to most European cities. We do get the odd complaint about the litter or the amount of development, but not

enough for us to see that people are being put off. That said, cleanliness and good infrastructure should both be focuses of our nation’s future,” Edward says. Overall, the duo are very excited about what is to come and believe it’s going to be a busy few years. “Between the companies that have already moved to Malta and the others that are considering making the move, we have a lot to work on and exciting times coming our way,” Michaela says. “I am thrilled to have taken on this role and know the immense scope of what can be achieved in the years to come – lettings is going to continue to mean big business for Malta,” she adds. cc 39


CC CASE STUDY

Exalco Group: Building on a successful track record From its metals and steel division to operating its prestigious Business Centres, Exalco Group Managing Director Alex Montanaro talks Sarah Micallef through the Group’s diverse business activities, its growth since its outset in 1986, and what the future holds for the ambitious companies.

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xalco Group finds its origins in the metals and steel trade in 1986, starting out as a trader in nonferrous metals like aluminium and copper raw materials. Since then, the business has grown and diversified, as Managing Director Alex Montanaro explains. “Today, we make shipments to various countries worldwide in products such as aluminium, copper and steel. Another very important part of our business is operating Business Centres, where we lease office spaces to a wide spectrum of office tenants,” he says. Indeed, Exalco Group are considered pioneers in the leasing of modern office spaces in Malta. Situated in prime locations, their Business Centres provide office leasing opportunities tailor-made for myriad business needs, with office premises coming in various sizes and finished to the best standards, including state-of-the-art amenities and facilities. Exalco Group currently owns and manages five prestigious business centres in Malta: the Parklane Business Centre in Guardamangia, Mayfair Business Centre in St Julian’s, Cornerstone Business Centre in Mosta,

Marina Business Centre in Ta’ Xbiex and the Golden Mile Business Centre in St George’s Bay, which is the latest in their portfolio and will be opening soon. Asked what makes the centres appealing to the local business community, Mr Montanaro maintains, “they are attractive to business operators because they include all modern amenities and facilities, and are managed professionally.” Meanwhile, the Group’s metal and steel division – the original arm of the company – is still in operation, and is going from strength to strength. Running under the name Exalco Metals Ltd, this section draws on Mr Montanaro’s own extensive 35 years of experience within the industry, so it’s no surprise that he comments, “the contribution of this division of our business to the Group has been significant.” Asked what makes Exalco Group a frontrunner in its industry, and how the Group seeks to stand out in an ever more competitive market, Mr Montanaro affirms, “our companies’ main strengths are in the personalised service we give to our customers and tenants. We always go that extra mile to ensure we give very special attention to their needs, and this results in

“Malta is changing, with more foreign investment coming in, and the future looks bright.”

Photo by Jan Zammit

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creating long-term business relationships.” Speaking of his personal experience in setting up the business, and what attracted him to it at the outset, the Managing Director reveals that he has always found business to be exciting and fulfilling, and that hasn’t changed. “I have the same enthusiasm now as I did when I started, way back in the 1980s,” he says, admirably, adding, “at the time, I was encouraged by seeing good business opportunities and by the fruitful results that emerged from the ventures” – fruitful results that have, in turn, been achieved by Exalco Group over its years in operation. Meanwhile, another area Mr Montanaro and the team at Exalco Group holds close to heart is Corporate Social Responsibility. In fact, a contribution towards the locality and the environment is made through each of their building developments. “In the Golden Mile Business Centre project, for instance, we contributed a significant part of our SEPTEMBER 2017


CC CASE STUDY

“Our companies’ main strengths are in the personalised service we give to our customers and tenants. We always go that extra mile to ensure we give very special attention to their needs, and this results in creating longterm business relationships.”

land to widen a public alleyway, and are also financing the finishing and embellishment of this alleyway that will link St George’s Bay to Paceville,” Mr Montanaro says, explaining, “it is an additional contribution that our project is giving to this important touristic zone, which will contribute towards improving the general environment in the area.” Turning his attention to the local landscape, I ask how the industry in Malta has changed since he first started out. What are his thoughts on the current state of the industry, and the future as far as Malta is concerned? “Nothing stands still for long in the business world,” he maintains, “and one has to face the evolving scenario. Malta is changing, with more foreign investment coming in, and the future looks bright. Private investment generally does its part well, however it is vital that the authorities also do their part, especially for the much needed upgrade in Malta’s general infrastructure. We need a general quantum leap in quality throughout the Maltese islands.” SEPTEMBER 2017

Meanwhile, the future is bright for Exalco Group, as Mr Montanaro reveals he has no intention of resting on his laurels. “There are exciting plans in the pipeline, mostly with investments in the property market. Very soon, our latest project, the Golden Mile Business Centre in St George’s Bay will be open for

business. Exalco Group aims to continue on its path of growth with further expansion. We are also contemplating going for a listing on the Malta Stock Exchange in the not-too-distant future, as we believe that our business ventures shall benefit investors with confidence in Exalco Group’s successful track record.” cc

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STYLE

Style review

REVIEW

04. Corduroy

The end of summer calls for an overhaul of one’s wardrobe – Marie-Claire Grima looks at the trends that will be dominating the fashion world as soon as the weather changes. 01. Red

Corduroy is back in a big way this autumn, especially when it comes to tailoring. Nothing beats a full cord suit, cut slim in an understated shade of navy or even mustard, while a pair of relaxed cord trousers to wear on the weekend can look either preppy or punk rock when paired with a leather jacket.

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Cosy shearling is a favourite for when the chill starts to set in and its practical neutrality makes it a perfect counterpoint for this season’s flamboyant cuts and colours.

Fendi

05. Shearling

From Givenchy’s sleek lines to flamboyant expressionism at Armani to Fendi’s over-the-knee statement boot, fiery red – worn alone or in conjunction with other warm autumn colours like orange or burgundy – is the hue to be seen in.

06. Double-breasted

02. 70s plaid Grungy 90s plaid has had its renaissance, but now it’s time for the bright plaid from the 70s to get its share of the spotlight. The bold and cheerful print was crafted into classic coats at Chloe, Stella McCartney and Prada, but it works on trousers, shirts and accessories just as well.

03. Russian details

80s nostalgia is everywhere, including in this broad-shouldered, doublebreasted style that’s straight out of Wall Street’s heyday. You can wear it straight for an uncomplicated financial vibe or deconstructed and playful for a more relaxed look. cc

Givenchy

04.

As the weather gets colder, turn to frosty Moscow for inspiration, with fur collars, intricate floral embroidery and dramatic volume – all of which featured prominently in several FW17 collections, including Derek Lam, Kate Spade New York and Temperley London.

Prada

Kate Spade

Stella Mc Cartney Maison Margiela

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SEPTEMBER 2017 Gucci


GADGETS

Tech Trends

With the end of summer approaching, it’s time to look at what’s new and what’s hot in the world of gadgets! Rebecca Anastasi handpicks those guaranteed to keep you having fun for months on end.

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01. Nintendo 2DS XL Rave reviews have welcomed this new portable console for gamers, young and old. Part of the 3DS family, the Nintendo 2DS XL is light and fun, yet boasts quality hardware, perfect for those kids bickering over whose turn it is to play. While this does not have the 3D feature of its cousin, this new version is perfect for new initiates in the gaming world: an extensive library of games, an ergonomic design and easier memory upgrades create an experience which is hard to beat.

02. Google Home

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Need help to organise your schedule, keep in touch with friends and family, and secure your home? Well, fear not, Google has once again come to the rescue! Google Home is the technology giant’s new smart speaker, helping you sort out your life and answer any question you may have. It’s just like having your own personal assistant, just cheaper and quieter. And with its voice recognition feature, its guaranteed to know who’s boss.

03. Fitbit Alta HR Now’s the time to make good on your New Year’s resolution to keep fit (better late than never!) Fitbit’s new fitness wrist band promises to not only track your heart rate but also to send you reminders to move. Available in fancy leather and metal options, you won’t need to break a sweat worrying about your style.

04. HP Spectre X2 Launched at the Cannes Film Festival this year, the HP Spectre X2’s beautiful design is red carpet worthy. This Windows PC allows you to write and draw with the Windows Ink Certified pen on a 12.3 inch, 6-millionpixel display. The laptop comes with its own stainless-steel copper kickstand and is available in Dark Ash Silver. But beauty is not all it has to offer: its features pack a punch, with up to 16GB RAM, a solid state hard drive and a 7th generation IntelCore i7 processor.

05. Brompton Electric Bike While not promising to fully alleviate your traffic blues, the Brompton Electric Bike may just be a realistic option for those who want to get from A to B without having to step into a car. The newest offering from the iconic brand retains the foldable feature of the original, yet makes use of a bespoke motor, designed by Williams Group, which also owns the Williams Martini Racing Formula One team. Speed is capped at 25kph, with a weight of 16 kilograms, making the Brompton Electric Bike as safe and durable as bikes go. An accompanying smartphone app also lets users track their mileage and customise settings for the bike.

06. iotty Smart Switch Switches which can only be turned on or off are so last year! What if you also wanted to monitor and control your power consumption? Enter the ‘iotty’ Smart Switch. The device can be programmed and operated from its companion smartphone app and allows you to set up timers, check usage statistics and activate the lights based on hour, weather or location in the house. Available in multiple colours to match your home, the switch is WIFI and touch sensitive. The ‘iotty’ team have set up an Indiegogo campaign through which you can pre-order the switch at a discount. cc

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SEPTEMBER 2017


CC MEET THE ARTIST

Wandering in between spaces When French fine art photographer Cyril Sancereau moved to Malta two and a half years ago, his roving camera followed, taking pure images of the seemingly ordinary. Here, he talks to Rebecca Anastasi about belonging, capturing moments in time and getting lost in the landscape – wherever he is.

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few years. I don’t feel attached to a place or a city.” Cyril’s first encounter with photography was at summer camp when he was ten (though fascinated, he admits he didn’t take many photos then), and it was only when he studied architecture that his focus changed. “Actually, I didn’t study much architecture. I was in the lab all day, so I then went to an art school in France in Rennes.” While there, he experimented with many forms including video, sculpture, performance and painting. But it was photography which seemed natural. “I don’t know why photography felt more comfortable. At the time, I was very interested in working with almost nothing, and, with photography, you don’t need much. You don’t need a workshop. My workshop is the landscape: I work outside. For me it was

Photo by Alan Carville

rom the beginning, I was really interested in territory, landscape and architecture. How can we be inhabitants? What does it really mean to be, and to belong, in a space?” says Cyril. As we sit in his third-floor studio within a renovated townhouse in Senglea, French fine art photographer Cyril Sancereau looks like he belongs in his space. Full of light and minimalist in its décor, the room reflects a sensibility unfettered by the excesses of photographic fetishism. It reflects an artist whose work embraces the fleeting nature of that which surrounds us. Yet, this sense of easy familiarity, as he explains, may just be an illusion. “When I was younger, my parents and I moved a lot, so, from a very young age, I knew that the feeling of belonging was ephemeral. I am in this city for a few months, in this room for a

SEPTEMBER 2017


CC MEET THE ARTIST

“I don’t know why photography felt more comfortable. At the time, I was very interested in working with almost nothing and, with photography, you don’t need much. You don’t need a workshop. My workshop is the landscape.”

really important to be flexible.” It is this roving sense of identity which characterises Cyril’s photography. His images of the quotidian, overlooked and, sometimes discarded, details which characterise the landscape around us – limestone rubble yielding to the garigue or the polished shore of a rocky beach – encourage a new way of seeing the familiar. The lens has been directed at that which was, perhaps, deemed too mundane to be noticed. But, Cyril insists this is not about country or nationality. “I can be in Malta but I can be anywhere or everywhere – it’s not the primary consideration.” His preoccupation with space, and the way movement interacts within this, is his starting point for musings on the impermanent and fragile nature of the world around us, whether this is a Mediterranean island or a European capital. SEPTEMBER 2017

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CC MEET THE ARTIST

“Walking is a kind of meditation, and it helps me to reflect on this question of belonging every second.” This may partly stem from his moving from city to city when he was younger. He would live in “the same building everywhere: it was the same bedroom, the same kitchen but it was in a different city.” He links this to the idea of non lieu (no place) and points to many other examples: airports, train stations and hotels, in-between spaces out of place and out of time. These are locales which are unspecific, common to a globalized culture. His photograph on the Freeport in Birżebbuġa is an iteration. These are places linked to the flow of people, and frequently tied to questions of belonging. “The body in space allows me to answer those questions,” he says. Indeed, his first exhibition, upon graduating from the Beaux Arts de Rennes, reflects this. Room 32 included images representing details from the eponymous room, to encourage the viewer to zoom in on one fragment, then another, and then another; their attention mimicking their imaginary movement within the area. This action is repeated in his walks and inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places. “The most important thing is to get lost in the landscape, whether it’s a city or the countryside,” he says. He admits this might be a bit more difficult to do in Malta than in Paris, but he believes he is doing his best work on the island. “I have more time to do my work and to be a foreigner. Living on an island has changed my perception of the landscape. Walking is a kind of meditation and it helps me to reflect on this question of belonging every second.”

Photo by Alan Carville

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It’s the fading instant which most concerns him, the ephemeral perfection of a slice of time in which the light and environmental elements work together to present an answer to his question. “One moment it works and it’s a good place. It’s only one second,” he says. His work has been influenced by the New Topographics movement of the 1970s, photographers like Lewis Baltz and Robert Adams, whom he encountered during his studies in Rennes. “There was a book

about it and for me it was like ‘wow’, and I’m still interested in the work of the artists who work in this way today.” Baltz’s stark images represented an America of concrete walls and vast industrial warehouses, far from the picturesque images in tourist guidebooks. “Lewis Baltz was taking photos of the landscape which is in transition, in this in-between space; not the beautiful landscape, but it was about the place and the moment captured there. It wasn’t the image you wanted to give about the country, but its reality.” SEPTEMBER 2017


CC MEET THE ARTIST It is this concern with portraying the world around him, warts and all, which motivates him. “I’m not interested in creating a photographic report on the beauty of Malta or France. I’m not interested in taking photos of sunsets over Valletta but it’s more how can I live in a country, how can I live in this instant, how can I be there, at this point in time.” I tell him the momentary sense of belonging in a space and in time is something many other immigrant artists have reflected upon and he may be part of the peripatetic movement of people. He admits this, pointing to the ‘A’ on his ID card. “Now I say I come from France – that’s easier. I used to live in Paris for a long time, but, today, I cannot say I’m a Parisian, since I don’t live out my routine there, and in Malta I cannot say I’m Maltese. So, I’m just in-between and I like that. You can have distance: you’re here and you’re not here.” The flow of people, Cyril says, makes it more difficult to address the issue of belonging because the landscape itself is shifting. “For my grandparents, the answer to that question was easier – they lived in a small village and they didn’t move a lot. Today it’s different: we live in cities; we move abroad, and the landscape changes.” He points to a blue picture of the horizon (in a rejection of essentialist definitions, his photos are all unnamed, each identified as being one in a series he calls ‘Impermanence’). The border where sea and sky traditionally meet is faded, almost erased by the mesh of colour, creating an in-between space where the essence of ‘sea’ and ‘sky’ is in question. “This picture of the sea could be anywhere. For me it’s more important

“I’m not interested in creating a photographic report on the beauty of Malta or France. I’m not interested in taking photos of sunsets over Valletta, but it’s more how can I live in a country, how can I live in this instant, how can I be there, at this point in time.”

Photo by Alan Carville

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to define your own landscape. It’s a mental landscape.” He points to the constancy of the horizon, the only immovable element in an ever-changing world and sees man’s limitations within it. “Maybe the landscape changes a lot, but the horizon stays the same and that is your own limit.” This contrast – between that which shifts and that which doesn’t – can also be seen in his photograph of the metal beach ladder, immovable in the rock, while the sea spray crashes against it, caught in that instant. “It’s a very ephemeral construction,” Cyril says, “impossible to take the same photo a second time.” For, in Cyril’s work, the landscape is peripatetic, impermanent and fragile, allowing him to peel away the layers of the past. He shows me a series of photos he calls ‘palimpsests’ – extreme close-up images, some of them abstract in their detail – which map out time. The traces in the rocks mirror the history of man’s influence on the land and you get the feeling the image is a result of a unique confluence of the angle of light and colour. In other photographs, and like Baltz before him, the empty buildings and dilapidated walls echo existing power relations. His series of pictures on the White Rocks development, built by the British in Pembroke, reflects this. “Architecture is power. They built that since

it was related to that power and, over time, it has crumbled to dust. It’s not eternal, and this was only 50 years ago.” He insists he is not interested in the politics of colonial times, or any politics, but in how architecture is linked to authority and its disintegration into dust. Everything alters, according to Cyril, even our cities, towns and streets, depending on the mood, the weather or the light. “There’s something new in the same thing.” He says this is truer in Malta than it is in Paris, due to the vernacular nature of the architecture, which reflects local building methods and stone. As a result, he points out, spaces change constantly, and even houses are moulded and adapted with changing times, resulting in homes shaped like ‘Tetris’ structures. “Like this house I live in, our bathroom is above our neighbours’ storage room.” For Cyril, this is the role of the artist: to ask questions and help people see things differently. “When you’re used to living in the same place, you don’t see your environment, you forget it, and the artist’s role is to guide you to look again at the same thing,” he says. By the time I leave Cyril’s workshop, it’s almost noon, the soft mid-morning sun having given way to a harsher light, transforming a familiar street into something new. cc 51


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Malta’s original telecoms company goes from strength to strength On 1st June, GO appointed Attila Keszeg as Chief Executive Officer. He has had a dynamic high profile career; prior to this appointment, he was Senior Vice President Commercial at Deutsche Telekom AG, responsible for the overall business to consumer activities in 12 countries. His experience also includes five years as General Manager for Red Bull Hungary.

You have made quite a transition from large organisations overseeing a number of central European markets to a relatively small, Mediterranean market, albeit one with a regional dimension. What was it that attracted you to GO? Malta is a respected member of the EU, and rapidly experiencing many of the trends and influences one can observe in mainland Europe. The Maltese telecommunications market will soon arrive at a crossroads, and require a transformational effort from market players to live up to the twin challenges of expansionist global players and rapidly evolving customer demand. After several years at the Head Office of a multinational company, I was looking for a CEO level operational challenge. GO is a great company, with excellent fundamentals and experienced people. I am looking forward to making my own contribution to GO’s ongoing transformation as the best service provider in Malta. What are your first impressions of the market, and the people/culture here in Malta? Clearly, Maltese society still embraces strong traditional values – the result of your history and enviable heritage. People here care about each other. However, the Maltese are resilient fighters, survivors who can rally round and protect common ground. One observes a strong work ethic and high standards. GO is not only an essential part of the local fabric and a fantastic national brand; it sums up what Malta is all about – tough, rooted in strong values, outward-looking, perfectly capable of rising to the challenges of the future. 52

All local network operators seem to claim they are the best/fastest, etc. What’s your own view – how does GO compare, say on mobile network speed and reliability? The telecommunications industry is driven by technology, which evolves continuously. As operators inevitably follow different investment cycles, their capabilities continue to change. There are, however, two important facts that we need to be clear about. Firstly, fibre-to-the-home, which only GO is rolling out, is the best available fixed line technology in the world. All major global players are investing in fibre. Some of our competitors have broadly available cable coverage, which is good technology, but one generation older than ours. With this technology, they are still able to temporarily claim a speed advantage in those areas where fibre has not yet been deployed. But in areas covered by fibre, our speed advantage is undisputed and will remain so in the future. Secondly, GO has the fastest, broadest and best mobile network in Malta. This is a fact which was recently confirmed by Net Check, an internationally recognised independent certifying agency. GO’s mobile network is superior, particularly when it comes to data, because ours is the only network which is entirely connected by fibre. Our major mobile competitor is talking about future capabilities, and some test operations in some areas of Gozo. But the truth is that GO is ready to launch 4G+ as soon as the regulatory bodies allocate the necessary frequency bands required for enhanced services. Going forward, GO is determined to ensure we remain the fastest network across Malta.

GO has embarked on some major investments such as fibre-to-the-home. Is this on track and will you pursue it further? GO’s commitment is to bring the best available technology to Malta; we always did, we always will. Over a span of five years or so, our cumulative investment in fibre and 4G technology as well as in systems and IT infrastructure is indeed significant, exceeding €200 million. This makes us the largest investor in the telecommunications industry in this market, and probably one of the largest investors in the Maltese economy. Additionally, we are also investing in SEPTEMBER 2017


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Maltese IT companies, and expanding GO’s skill base. GO employs, either directly or indirectly, over 1,200 Maltese people, and we enjoy the trust of some 8,500 shareholders via the Malta Stock Exchange. We always were – and aspire to remain – the largest investors and employer in our sector. As a leading Maltese company firmly rooted in the local economy, GO is committed to Malta’s ongoing prosperity. What are GO’s views on the proposals by Melita and Vodafone Malta to restructure their businesses? What is being proposed is fairly significant SEPTEMBER 2017

and would, essentially, reshape Malta’s telecommunications market for years to come. GO has full confidence in the Maltese regulatory authorities, which are rightly looking at this very closely. One would hope that, should the proposed acquisition be approved, adequate remedies and safeguards will be put in place to ensure a fair playing field and genuine competition. Believe me, GO is not afraid of competition and we are determined to continue being a strong player in the market. What are you own main strategic priorities going forward? We have already deployed the fastest and

best 4G mobile network in Malta. We are in the middle of deploying the best available fixed line technology to ensure high speed broadband and high quality TV services. As such, GO is well placed to provide the best speeds and highest quality services in Malta. Investing in infrastructure is the first step, but our principal aspiration is to offer businesses, households and individuals the solutions to their telecommunications needs. In parallel with new services, we have the ambition to deliver the best customer service on the Maltese market. We are Malta’s original telecoms company and we want to be the first choice for customers. cc 53


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39 submissions for Malta’s first International Business Awards TradeMalta has received 39 submissions for the six awards that are up for grabs for its Malta International Business Awards, being held on Friday 10th November. The process of evaluation of submissions has now started and the shortlisted companies are expected to be announced in September. The categories for which there have been most submissions are the Small Business, the Medium Business, the Emerging Markets and the award for Innovation Exporter. The other awards are Large Business and High Potential Exporter. The seventh award, Overall Exporter of the Year, will be based on jury’s nomination. The Malta International Business Awards are being held for the first time this year. The awards, being organised by TradeMalta, aim to celebrate the success stories of enterprises selling innovative services and products internationally, thus contributing to economic

media:scape – Open, connect and share

media:scape by Steelcase integrates technology and furniture to bring people, space and information together for greater collaboration and productivity than ever before. It is simple, fast and effective, and provides an unparalleled user experience. Since its inception, media:scape has thoughtfully integrated furniture and technology – bringing people, space and information together to enhance productivity and help groups excel. Now, organisations can optimise each media:scape setting to best meet their collaboration needs, from sharing wirelessly in a small huddle room, to a team brainstorm over video. It elevates the role of content sharing while the camera angles ensure that the team can focus on the work at hand. media:scape can be customised to enhance both the organisational needs and the user experience. SEPTEMBER 2017

Officials from TradeMalta, HSBC Bank Malta, and BPC International with Minister Carmelo Abela (fourth left) at the announcement of the Malta International Business Awards

growth and creating aspiration amongst younger enterprises. The Malta International Business Awards have the strategic support of HSBC Malta Commercial Banking, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion. They are being sponsored by audit firm Grant Thornton and have BPC International as marketing and communications partner. At the launch of the Awards, TradeMalta Ltd Chairman David G. Curmi said, “international business is complex, and requires strong leadership, serious planning and the commitment of human and capital resources. Many businesses learn, through first-hand experience, that they need to go back to the drawing board and redefine their offering before striking deals in international markets. Those who succeed, however, reap significant rewards on multiple fronts. The Malta International Business Awards recognise these

Share content wirelessly media:scape Virtual PUCK™ allows meeting participants to share content wirelessly from a laptop, maintaining the simple ‘Open. Connect. Share.’ experience. The app seamlessly integrates with a media:scape setting, enabling information-sharing from any participant, anywhere in the room, with a simple click of an icon or touch of a physical puck. Collaboration can, and should, happen anywhere By creating a variety of collaborative spaces throughout corporate, education and healthcare campuses — large team spaces, more casual impromptu spaces, previously underutilised in-between spaces — media:scape allows users to accomplish more with others, regardless of their location.   The workplace challenge Organisations rely on both multi-discipline and functional group collaboration to generate new ideas and improve existing processes. Active project teams need an environment that is just as fluid as they are. One that removes both physical and virtual barriers, allowing them to freely engage with both analogue and digital tools, creating an environment optimised for active collaboration.  

businesses and celebrates their success.” HSBC Malta’s Head of Commercial Banking Michel Cordina said, “these awards have our support as they lend recognition to exporters whose vision and hard work carries the flag of Malta beyond our shores. As such, MIBA complement our own initiatives to support international businesses, such as the Malta Trade for Growth Fund, which has to date dedicated €125 million towards stimulating international trade.” Carmelo Abela, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion, said, “the time has come for Malta-based enterprises’ export and overseas expansion efforts to receive the acknowledgment they deserve. These awards will increase the finalists’ visibility in both the Maltese and international markets. They will also prove valuable in these businesses’ marketing strategy while boosting employee motivation.” cc

Collaborative work is essential Active learning involves content sharing and building new knowledge. As learning becomes more interactive, classrooms must support multiple types of collaboration, including information, evaluative and generative, as well as peer-to-peer learning. cc For more information on how your workplace can be designed to foster innovation, speak to the sales and design consultants at Oxford House in Mriehel. T: 2546 4000.  55


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Mr Green: The gentleman of online gaming Jesper Kärrbrink, CEO of Mr Green Ltd, discusses the thinking and initiatives that make Mr Green stand out from the crowd of betting companies locally. What is Mr Green and what kind of gaming services do you offer? Mr Green offers a competitive sportsbook, casino slots, number games and an exciting Live Casino environment. Founded in 2007 and launched in 2008 towards the Nordic market, Mr Green today serves players across Europe and beyond, holding licenses in Malta, the UK, Ireland, Italy and DK. As a company, Mr Green has always had sustainability at heart and we are constantly challenging ourselves to leave as green a footprint as possible. What does Mr Green have that’s unique when compared to other betting companies? At Mr Green, the brand characterises what we believe in. The idea of a modern day

Creek Developments Plc announces the re-election of the Board of Directors for the period 2017-2019 At its Annual General Meeting in August, Creek Developments Plc has announced the re-election of Philip Attard, Etienne Bonello DuPuis, Patrick Gauci, Kevin Mercieca and Michael Mifsud to serve on the Board of Directors for the coming term.

gentleman and lady as role models set clear expectations on us for being honest, trustworthy, respectful and fair. This mindset affects how we act towards our players, our business partners, our suppliers and of course our colleagues. Working with Mr Green means being part of a supportive and fun team of professional and creative talents. Are there any areas within which the company has made significant investments? Differentiation within a generic market like online gaming comes from being able to create and evolve your user experience in a unique way to serve the player with relevant entertainment in a responsible environment. We have put a lot of time and effort into creating a user experience with a 1:1 player focus. This means no more irrelevant offerings or bonuses and a clear and honest view of your gaming behaviour. The first part is managed within our new loyalty programme where players will receive only relevant and individual offers, and which is set to launch later this year. The second part is perhaps even more exciting as it is paving the way for how we perceive the future for responsible gaming. The Green Gaming Predictive tool, also set to launch this year, is a programme where the player gets to combine their own perceived gaming behaviour through a self-assessment test with their actual gaming data analysed

many subsidiary companies both in Malta and overseas. Elected for a third consecutive term, Philip’s industry track record bears testament to the attention to efficiency given to any venture in which he is involved. Etienne Bonello DuPuis is currently a director of 4H2O Ltd, and has held numerous other appointments over the years, including executive and non-executive directorships in various companies. Deeply engaged in civil society, he is the Mayor of San Gwann and a Founding Director of Creek Developments Plc. Patrick Gauci FIA, MA Financial Services, CPA, has been a Fellow of the Malta Institute of Accountants since 1992, and a Certified Public Accountant and Auditor since 1994.

over a wide range of action variables like risk, change, time and spend. With the Green Gaming Predictive Tool you can say that we offer our players a safety belt not many gaming companies have. What’s next for Mr Green? We have a line-up of exciting products and features rolling out later this year – it will all be very exciting to see how our players take these on. New markets will be seeing Mr Green touch down as well. And after growing at a rapid pace for the last two years, we are looking forward to moving into our newly renovated offices starting this fall. cc

Elected to the Board for a third consecutive term, Patrick brings financial and audit acumen to the Board. Kevin Mercieca B.Ed (Hons), MSc, MCIWM, has been a senior manager working in the fields of public sector environmental management and policy. Elected for a second consecutive term, Kevin contributes extensive knowledge of statutory and environmental matters to the Board. Michael Mifsud, elected for a third consecutive term, has 26 years of experience as a construction and projects manager in civil engineering. On a personal level, he is heavily involved in the promotion and development of the sport of yachting from grass-roots up to competitive levels. cc

Innovative and operating a policy of continuous improvement, the Msida & Ta’ Xbiex Marina has become a standard-setter for leisure yacht berthing in the Maltese islands, a level of success which may be attributed in no small part to the commitment of the current Board of Directors. Hailing from a variety of backgrounds, each member contributes a highly complementary wealth of expertise and experience. Philip Attard is the sole proprietor of the 1976 established Attrans Ltd, together with SEPTEMBER 2017

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Is it time to move your business online? The growth of e-commerce has had a dramatic effect on how the global business community markets its products and services. Bank of Valletta is a pioneer in providing electronic payment solutions and has gained a wealth of experience in e-commerce business in Malta. Through the use of avant-garde information technology systems and excellent relations with the major card schemes, Bank of Valletta supports its customers in taking their business online. Bank of Valletta offers its customers an e-Commerce Merchant Account that enables the business to easily and safely accept online card payments through the website in real time mode or at a later time through a Virtual Point of Sale (VPOS). The integration of a card payment facility into one’s own system is the ideal solution for merchants who already have their own website, or plan to set up a website, and are interested in accepting card payments directly through the site. Among the benefits this

type of account presents to the merchant is the confirmation of payments in real-time, as well as the daily settlement of funds. All major currencies are accepted, and the Bank also offers the facility of 3D secure transactions for added security. It also provides the merchant with greater competitive advantage through enhanced customer experience by following the individual’s shopping patterns. Another option is the VPOS. This refers to a user-friendly URL based system which enables merchants to handle Card-NotPresent transactions through their own setups, Customer Call Centres or Reservations Departments. Merchants will be given instant access to

the Bank’s secure servers through a URL based web portal, thereby avoiding the need to install applications on their systems. This setup eliminates all development costs whilst concurrently ensuring that no cardholder data is stored beyond the system’s boundaries. cc For additional information or queries, contact Bank of Valletta on 2275 1571 or by sending an email to ecommerce@bov.com 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). Registered Office: 58, Triq San Zakkarija, Il-Belt Valletta VLT 1130-Malta Registration Number: C 2833

Malta’s best kept secret The Paradise Bay Resort is an extremely spacious and comfortable resort. Situated in a unique location overlooking the picturesque sister islands of Gozo and Comino, the resort is surrounded by the clear seas of the Mediterranean. With 276 rooms, all with sea views and balconies, the resort’s amenities also boast various dining outlets, bars, conference halls, a tennis court, three outdoor pools with extensive terraces and sun loungers, a large indoor pool that is heated during the winter months, a children’s playground with safety flooring, a games room for all ages and a private beach with water sports (during summer). A private car park accessible to hotel guests is also available free of charge. Its unique location makes the Paradise Bay Resort an ideal base to relax in. Alternatively, one can also venture out to various interesting locations nearby such as St Agatha’s Tower, also known as Torri l-Ahmar or Red Tower, built by the Knights SEPTEMBER 2017

of St John in 1647, and the Ghadira Natural Reserve, which is very popular with bird watchers. The most beautiful sandy beaches are also close by. These include Paradise Bay, Armier Bay, Little Armier Bay, Ghadira Bay, Golden Bay, Gnejna Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha Bay. One can also take a boat trip to the small island of Comino and visit the crystal clear blue waters of the Blue Lagoon. cc

The Paradise Bay Resort, Marfa Road, Cirkewwa. T: 2152 1166; F: 2152 1153; E: info@paradise-bay.com www.paradise-bay.com

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Creating your own path Founder and young entrepreneur Daniel Fenech tells the story behind Malta’s first subscription box, Plait, and what it takes to be an entrepreneur locally. What is the story behind your business? Plait intertwines a product and a service like a braid, hence the name. We carefully select products for customers and serve them at home during a convenient time, making sure everything about the customer experience is impeccable. The idea came about while in search of ways to upgrade the standard of local ecommerce and the associated logistics, which come part and parcel. What did you do before, and how did it get you ready for the world of business?  I am a medical doctor by profession with no experience or family in business – just a longstanding fascination with entrepreneurship. I managed to save up through working as many night shifts as I could while also reading for a Masters in Entrepreneurship, through which I researched and prepared my business plan,

The art of microcement Microcement finishes have taken the local market by storm. As the demand keeps growing, JMV Building Solutions are providing the full range of products and technical know-how. Microcement is a product which allows the realisations of very thin (2-3mm) decorative coatings that can be applied to both walls and floors. The material is particularly suited for rapid renovation works, since its very low thickness permits the intervention to be carried out without removing/lowering the existing surface, hence saving time and money. Microcement is walkable after 24 hours, since it achieves high initial strength very rapidly. It is applicable in a variety of customisable colours, textures, and design options. It is invariably characterised by a true unique elegance, and ultimately, the applicator’s distinct signature style. The finished result will permit a smooth, seamless and continuous surface, which apart from being easy to clean, is favoured by designers since

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ultimately graduating with distinction. I was lucky to be lectured by Prof. Russell Smith, who has become my mentor. What have been your key milestones in the business so far? Managing to raise equity investment early this year, and launching Plait three months ago. How do you think Malta responds to start-ups and how is the scene developing?  The start-up scene in Malta is still in its infancy. The main problem is that there still isn’t the proper framework for raising equity investment. Being an entrepreneur is also mistaken by many to be the same as running a lifestyle business, because most business people actually do run their businesses as sole traders without a clear exit strategy. What does it take to be an entrepreneur in Malta?  Creativity – you have to create your own path. There are myriad untapped opportunities locally, and I believe the entrepreneur has the advantage of being forced to create

it introduces the sense of space to the room. The products of the ISOMAT DUROCRETDECO range are composed of a polymermodified high strength cement material. The polymer additions to the compound permit applications in very thin layers, whilst giving a finish with high absorption resistance, excellent flexibility and resistance to contraction-expansion stresses. The high adhesive capacity of the product ensures excellent bonding to a variety of substrates. The system can be used both internally and externally in numerous architectural applications such as stairs, floors, walls and even furniture such as built-in sanitaryware. Its flexibility renders it suitable for applications demanding elasticity, such as substrates made of gypsum board, ceramic floors or metal surfaces. The high strength of the material means the application can take place on floors subject to heavy traffic. ISOMAT have developed a full range of complementary products such as primers, reinforcing meshes, and protective varnishes to give further application options, aesthetic possibilities, mechanical and chemical resistance to the finished system. The acrylic water-based varnish VS-W can be applied as a protective layer, whereas the highperformance two-component polyurethane

opportunities other than fairly straightforward routes like franchising or importing, which are usually not available to them. Any tips for budding entrepreneurs? Work hard and be obsessed, perseverant and tenacious. Be ready to pivot and adapt because most of the time you will have to, while having the will to always keep pushing forward. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to do things others won’t do, like working 100-hour weeks throughout the year. And to be able to do that, you need to love what you’re doing. I also think it’s sensible to seek collaboration with other companies rather than competing with them. What’s next for you and the company?  I want to keep growing Plait and enter other sectors – we have new launches very soon, but I won’t spoil the surprise! We will also keep growing our logistical systems and offer them to select third party companies who believe their customers deserve superior service. cc

based varnish VARNISH PU-2K can be used to further increase the absorption resistance of the system, whilst giving also a high mechanical resistance to applications subjected to traffic. cc Get in touch with JMV technical department for more information. Call at JMV Building Solutions, Triq l-Imdina, Haz-Zebbug, or contact us on 2146 7421 or via sales@jmvibro.com.

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NEWS Events & Initiatives

01. Keen response to Investor Clinic An Investor Clinic was organised by Bank of Valletta and the Malta Chamber with the collaboration of Saxo Bank in June. As President of the Malta Chamber Frank V. Farrugia explained in his welcome note, “the Chamber and the bank are organising a number of educational clinics to equip the local business community with the financial knowledge required to continue to operate with success in an increasingly globalised, uncertain economy in a manner that mitigates risk and improves profitability.” The keynote speech was delivered by Christopher Dembik, Head of Macro Analysis at Saxo Bank. Mr Dembik, who is often quoted internationally by influential business and financial media said, “it is the first time over the past three years that I am so optimistic about the global economy and, especially, about the fate of the euro area.” He went on to give an overview of the macro-environment and trends being experienced by the markets and consequently the possible impacts these may have on the investor.

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Participants were then given a live demo of the bank’s online trading platform by Pierre Martin, Senior Sales Trader at Saxo Markets. Chief Business Development Officer (Investments) Kenneth Farrugia said, “at Bank of Valletta, we feel it is our responsibility to invest in organising these sessions which are insightful and enriching to the participants.”

02. Bank of Valletta and Malta Chamber strengthen ties

Chamber has carried out valuable work and launched initiatives specifically aimed at supporting small businesses. “Both organisations are in fact looking forward to strengthen their collaboration through the organisation of a series of conferences and information sessions on themes that give a value added service to Chamber members and concurrently to BOV clients,” Mr Farrugia said. This year’s conference shall deal with Corporate

Pensions Schemes while the subject for next year’s has already been chosen as Family Business & Business Succession. Mr Farrugia expressed the bank’s satisfaction that this long-term collaboration was being renewed. “Over the years, the bank has always sought to remain close to the market, because we believe that this is the best way in which we can support these businesses and support them in broadening their horizons. We are eager

In July, Bank of Valletta and the Malta Chamber signed a collaborative agreement that will see both parties collaborating closely in pursuing their shared objective to promote enterprise and growth for the benefit of the economy. The agreement, which is the latest instalment in a decade long relationship between the Chamber and the bank, was signed by Frank V. Farrugia, President of the Chamber, and the Deputy President David Xuereb, while the bank was represented by Kenneth Farrugia, Chief Business Development Officer (Investments) who was accompanied by Mark Scicluna Bartoli, Head EU and Institutional Affairs. Speaking during the signing, Mr Farrugia said that with Bank of Valletta’s assistance over the past years, the

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to ensure that this collaboration will translate into additional benefits for the members of the Chamber, primarily through a number of initiatives such as financial education sessions, similar to ones already organised on trade finance, pensions and very recently online trading,” he said. In virtue of this agreement, the Malta Chamber and Bank of Valletta shall also, later on this year, be launching an online SME start-up guide that will prove to extend invaluable assistance to startup and advanced start-up businesses operating in and from Malta.

03. Logistics sector takes centre stage An article on Malta’s logistics sector was featured with prominence in FIATA’s newsletter FIATA Review in July, which is distributed to some 6,500 associated members worldwide. FIATA is the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, of which the Malta Chamber, through its Logistics Business Section, is an associate member. Setting the theme for the publication, the Malta feature describes the island as a natural hub in the Mediterranean, and focuses on the leaps and bounds this sector has performed in the recent past in Malta. The article provides readers with a detailed account of the favourable economic conditions enjoyed in Malta, as well as details on how to set up a business on the island which is ‘in the crossroads of the Mediterranean’.

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The write-up also states that as a member of FIATA since 2016, the Logistics Business Section within the Malta Chamber has already made a significant impact in the logistics sector and is currently lobbying with Government to enact regulations, incentives and supply chain education for the logistics sector in general.

04. CORE holds its first AGM CORE Platform, the national platform for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Malta, held its first AGM on 12th July, since its launch in September 2015. CORE Platform is made up of business institutions in Malta, namely the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry; the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA); the Malta Employers’ Association (MEA); the Malta Business Bureau (MBB); General Retailers and Traders Union (GRTU); and SOS Malta, which represents NGOs. The organisation was set up on the initiative of the President of Malta, as a platform that would act as the link between the business community and civil society in Malta. During the AGM, the vision of the organisation and its objectives were reaffirmed. All those present agreed that CORE Platform should continue working towards bringing businesses, NGOs, and local communities closer to each other through more crosssector collaborations and initiatives. Moreover, the organisation was 70

05. applauded for its involvement in a number of CSR-related local and European projects, and was encouraged to continue its engagement in, and promotion of, innovative joint projects supporting CSR and sustainable development.

05. Council of the Malta Chamber holds meeting with PM Opening a meeting of the Council of the Malta Chamber, for which Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and members of the cabinet of Ministers were present, President Frank V. Farrugia said that

Government and the Chamber shared several common ideas and priorities aimed at enhancing the economic competitiveness of our nation and our businesses. Addressing the Prime Minister for the first time since the June election during such a meeting, Mr Farrugia said that the Chamber agreed with Government on the need to upgrade the island’s infrastructure, the simplification of bureaucratic practices, continued fiscal consolidation, the preservation of the country’s reputation, resolving the issues that plague our national airline, and dealing with the acute SEPTEMBER 2017


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skill shortages in our labour market. The President also mentioned issues of high and urgent importance in terms of our country’s competitiveness. “These include issues related to regional aid, banking, the continued abuse in free movement of goods, excise duties and investment in research, development, technology and innovation,” he said. He also reiterated the Chamber’s disagreement with Government on the matter of public holidays falling on a weekend. Mr Farrugia mentioned other sectoral issues of significant importance including loading and unloading difficulties faced by delivery vehicles, the forthcoming POYC reform, the establishment of a Medicines Verification organisation, as well as visas for workers, tourists and language students. “In terms of the European agenda, we intend to discuss the effects of Brexit on our economy, the European Commission’s proposals for a directive on work-life balance for parents and carers, and the ongoing debate on the future of the European Union,” the President said.

05. A healthy labour market leading to a competitive economy In its pre-budget document, the Malta Chamber is expected to focus its attention on the importance of an efficient and sustainable labour market that can accommodate the requirements of a growing competitive Maltese economy. On the subject of long-term planning, Chamber will also suggest the country that exploits the current positive public finances situation to rectify long-standing issues that threaten long-term fiscal sustainability. Director General Kevin J. Borg said that among other issues that the Chamber is planning to tackle amongst its recommendations to Government for the coming year are planning for a general upgrade of the country’s infrastructure, fiscal incentives and the prices of energy for business. Malta’s thriving economy has brought about serious shortages of skills availability across all categories of employment. As a result, businesses are experiencing major difficulties in retaining and recruiting staff at all levels. This is being evidenced concretely by consistent feedback from Chamber members. As a result, the Chamber will propose a number of concrete short-term solutions to alleviate the immediate pressures on wages and the labour market. Other solutions for the longer term are also envisaged. SEPTEMBER 2017

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06. Chamber focusing its attention on start-ups The Malta Chamber is organising an event titled Start-Up Strong, Tools for Success, as part of SME Week Malta 2017, aimed at encouraging young people to take the start-up route and become entrepreneurs. During the event, the Chamber shall also be launching its new SME Toolkit, which it is producing in collaboration with Bank of Valletta. The SME Toolkit is targeted towards the younger generation with potential start-up ambitions and will guide them through the crucial decision-making phases of setting up a company, such as market research, acquiring finance and marketing. The event will also include motivational talks by young, successful entrepreneurs on their experiences before, during and after the start-up phase of the business. The motivational speakers will also participate in a panel debate titled Creating a Thriving Youth Entrepreneurship Environment. The event is set to take place on Wednesday 4th October 2017, between 2pm and 5pm at the Malta Chamber’s Exchange Buildings in Republic Street, Valletta.

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NEWS Internationalisation

01. MOU with Ghana Chamber signed Speaking at a business forum during which a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry was signed, Deputy President of the Malta Chamber Perit David Xuereb said that great potential for a mutually beneficial relationship between Malta and Ghana existed. He said that Malta had performed a true modern day economic miracle and was in the best position to propose collaborations in a number of sectors such as logistics, IT, health, ICT, finance and insurance as well as science and education. Mr Xuereb said that Malta and Ghana are business hubs and business entry locations in their own right

and geography which can help offer mutually advantageous cooperation. “Malta is not interested in the economies of the past but is rather more interested in moulding the entrepreneurial potential of the future,� the Deputy President said. The Memorandum of Understanding has the aim to encourage and facilitate actions leading to the promotion and development of commercial exchanges and economic cooperation between interested companies from Malta and Ghana. The agreement also seeks to continuously identify possibilities for the promotion and development of bilateral ties, commercial exchanges and economic cooperation. The MOU was signed by Deputy President Perit David Xuereb on behalf of the Malta Chamber. cc

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Brian Pratt

Emma Diskin

Thomas Allendoerfer

Olga Leskevica

Malta: The expat perspective It’s always good to consider the positives and negatives of our country from the outside – and Malta’s many expats give us that valuable opportunity. Here Jo Caruana chats to four professionals who’ve chosen to make our island their home.

Olga Leskevica has been living in Malta for seven years, and recently completed qualifications at the University of Malta. She has been employed in the real estate sector for five years, and now works with RE/MAX Specialist. “Malta has changed a lot since I first moved here – the island looks completely different as there has been a lot of development. From the range of properties to the improved infrastructure, this development is attracting lots of foreign investors and tourists to the island, and the country is becoming more recognised from an international perspective. “Malta is an attractive place to be for a SEPTEMBER 2017

number of reasons. First off, it’s a very safe island with a warm climate. Foreigners are also welcome here, and I have slotted in very well with Maltese society. The fact that I am an EU citizen has also provided key benefits, including free education at the university. Plus, as English is an official language, it is easy to communicate. “When it comes to the challenges of living here, most of them come down to the fact this is a small island and territory is very small. I also think that Government needs to consider how the country is developing and should pay more attention to the south; there is still a big gap between the south and central areas. “When it comes to the property sector, Malta has a lot to offer – it is in a good

geographical location with favourable fiscal options. Setting up a business in Malta is relatively cheap compared to other EU countries, with good tax conditions and short delays when it comes to company registration procedures. The fact we’re English-speaking also makes it a great place for Englishspeaking investors. “With all of that in mind, I definitely believe in a positive future for Malta and its economy. The real estate market is increasing every day, with lots of new projects that will improve the look of the Maltese Islands and attract more tourists. Malta is on the way to being recognised more and more for its attractive opportunities, not just in Europe but all over the world.” 79


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“Government needs to consider how the country is developing and should pay more attention to the south; there is still a big gap between south and central areas.” Olga Leskevica, RE/MAX Specialist

Brian Pratt and his family moved to Malta in August 2010 for his work within the corporate office of Corinthia Hotels. His role involves generating revenue for all 15 of the Group’s hotels, and ensuring all new hotels opened are successful and positioned correctly in their respective markets. “Malta is significantly busier now than in 2010. The Arab Spring has negatively impacted many destinations that compete for the same customers we have here in Malta, so our hotels are fuller and restaurants busier, and all that comes with having a destination that is experiencing very high demand.

“Malta has character, is English speaking and has 300 days of sunshine – no other EU destination has all three.” Brian Pratt, Corinthia Hotels 80

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the Maltese people are the best – they are hard-working, educated, friendly, dedicated and always willing to help, so this makes the work environment very positive. I’m extremely happy to be living here and very lucky, as my wife and kids all agree this is a great place to be. “The work my team performs is international so we are working and speaking with many nationalities. I travel often so I also consider Malta Airport to be a benefit to life here – I can arrive at the airport less than one hour before departure and never worry about the time it takes to clear security and make a flight. It’s the same for returning to Malta – I like being able to walk to the terminal and not having to take a bus as we do in so many larger European airports.  “Of course, traffic and parking are always a challenge and something that my wife complains about daily, but I travel around on a Vespa so it’s never a problem for me. Summers back in my hometown of Boston are short and the weather is unpredictable, so the long, sunny summers here are great. Malta’s beauty from the sea is worldclass. I have two adult children and they love coming home as there is so much for them to do here. SEPTEMBER 2017


CC LIFESTYLE “When I look at Malta from an outside perspective, it has character, is English speaking and has 300 days of sunshine – no other EU destination has all three. I have a contrarian opinion on the housing prices on the island – I think their rates now are the new normal and that they will continue to rise from here. “There are also a few things I think should be focused on – sports for instance. Today football is the national game and it gets funding but not all children want to play football. Rugby, on the other hand, is a sport that can grow but there are very few pitches to play and train on. Beyond that, Malta is not a clean island but it should be, especially as we count on visiting tourists to go home and talk about their time here. For some reason, people think it’s OK to throw trash out of windows, dump rubbish in empty lots and litter on the beach. This needs to be addressed.”

What’s your advice for anyone thinking of moving to Malta? Olga – “Really get to know the beauty of what the island has to offer, especially when it comes to culture, architecture and cuisine. Immerse yourself in local society, as that will guarantee you enjoy living and working here.” Brian – “Find a village you enjoy and become part of village life.” Emma – “Make sure your home has an air-conditioner! Also focus on finding a good landlord if you are renting. Unlike in other EU countries, there are no laws to protect tenants and you hear horror stories of unscrupulous landlords refusing to return deposits or over-charging for utilities.” Thomas – “If you have the chance to come to Malta, just do it. It’s easy to relocate here and you can be anywhere else in Europe within a few short hours. Whether you stay for eight years (and counting) like me, or just for a year or two, it’s worth the experience.”

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“There aren’t many places in the world where you can work in a data-driven, tech environment and then feel like you’re on holiday every time you leave the office.” Emma Diskin, Betsson Group

Emma Diskin moved to Malta with her family from just outside London last September, after accepting to take on the role of director of PR and Social Media with Betsson Group. She loves juxtaposing the fast-pace of her work life with the island’s more laid-back approach. “I moved to Malta in low season so I have noticed the huge influx of people that come here in the summer months. What was possible just a matter of months ago – finding a free spot on the beach for instance – becomes much harder once holidaymakers are here. “When it comes to the benefits of living in Malta, the climate ranks pretty high. Having lived and worked in and around London for the majority of my career, I still find it amazing to be able to leave work and go to the beach. There aren’t many places in the

world where you can work in a data-driven, tech environment and then feel like you’re on holiday every time you leave the office. My family and I love the freedom of the island, and the fact that it offers a safe environment to bring up children – it also helps that it’s just a short plane journey back home or to visit any number of European cities. Given that there are no language barriers and the Maltese drive on the same side of the road, it’s very easy for Brits to settle here.  “That said, there are a number of challenges and, when I first moved here, I found it difficult to accept the pace of life. In the UK, you come to expect a certain level of service, but it doesn’t work like that in Malta. People are much more relaxed. Things take longer. I had to learn to be patient.  “And while Malta is no doubt a beautiful country, it’s dirty. I appreciate that a huge amount of litter is no doubt generated by tourists, but it’s unsightly, not to mention unhygienic. The areas around Paceville are 83


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the worst. Traffic is another nightmare, with short journeys taking far longer than is necessary. I know Malta is keen to bring more companies and industries to the island, but you wonder how many more it can take. “Nevertheless, it’s positive from a business perspective. Malta was the first country in the EU to introduce gaming regulations that serious iGaming operators could use to compete with monopolies around Europe. The island continues to offer regulatory robustness and a business-friendly environment.” 

Thomas Allendoerfer has been in Malta for eight years – on a journey that began as a start-up adventure with a friend. He now works as a product manager within the Salesforce team at Tipico.

supportive and family-oriented the Maltese are. “On the flip side, the language is hard to learn, but I am improving slowly. Punctuality is also a challenge, while finding a good handyman to turn up to your house on time is almost impossible! Thus there are a few things that I am still getting used to. “Nevertheless, I think Malta has done a good job of finding and endorsing industry niches to boost the local economy. With rising rents, construction companies and other industries earning a lot, it is important to keep social equality in mind. In my opinion, Malta can only continue to grow if all the Maltese can participate in that growth, not just a select few. To achieve this we need to

forget about our political preferences and decide what’s best for the country. As an example, supporting the environment should be in everyone’s interest. Nonetheless I see a lot of politically driven discussions about the topic. “When it comes to our line of work – the iGaming industry – it is technology and talent driven. The University of Malta has recognised this and catered for the needs of the industry. I have a lot of very talented Maltese colleagues. Being part of the EU makes it relatively easy to relocate and start working in Malta. A solid technical infrastructure and a coherent license framework set Malta apart from many other countries.” cc

“Malta has changed a lot since I first got here – primarily as it is quickly applying technology to daily life. Little things like being able to pay a utility or insurance bill online or interact with Government over the e-ID portal have all been implemented since I got here. “When it comes to life on the island, the biggest benefit at work is cultural diversity. I have colleagues from across the globe and learn something new about different countries almost every day. It opens up my view of the world. Having married my Maltese wife this year, I have also got to know much more about Maltese traditions. I call them the four ‘fs’ – festi, food, family and friends. I have come to really appreciate how

“Malta can only continue growing if all the Maltese can participate in its growth, not just a select few.” Thomas Allendoerfer, Tipico 84

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FIMBank’s real estate financing solutions FIMBank’s Head of Real Estate Jason Zammit and Vice President Maria Said talk with Manuel Zarb about FIMBank’s Real Estate Developer Suite and its range of property development loans, targeting established developers for selected projects.

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roperty development financing often takes place in a highly competitive market, with difficult timeframes and conditions. FIMBank is geared to provide financing solutions for both the acquisition and development of property with beneficial terms and pricing. Despite the launch being recent, the bank is already on track to achieve success in this sector, says FIMBank’s Vice President Maria Said. “Within a short period of time, we have built a strong team with the right experience and skills, sustaining a solid pipeline of transactions with significant promise for growth. Our objective is to capture market share through a range of products and services which have been designed to effectively meet our clients’ needs, and I’m glad to confirm that the Developer Suite has been very well received. We realise that there is strong potential for growth, and we are determined to build a firm foundation for long-term success.” Mr Zammit goes on to delve into the range of products offered as part of the Real Estate Developer Suite. “FIMBank now provides financing solutions to developers

for the acquisition and development of property. Our range of facilities includes funding on a pro rata basis, the purchase of land for development into residential units, commercial buildings, and mixed utility properties. We offer competitive pricing and terms which vary depending on the nature of the project, whilst the repayment is typically structured to coincide with the sale of the development, or from the proceeds of the rental or business activity.” FIMBank’s Developer Suite offers a number of benefits making it a very competitive choice for the local property market, Ms Said continues. “Our clients benefit from our expertise, skills and in-depth knowledge of the local property market,” she says, maintaining, “we have built a strong team capable of tailoring solutions that meet the needs of different clients. The cornerstone of our business model is the personalised long-term relationships we develop with our clientele. We offer quality banking, with a dedicated team delivering a highly personalised customer service beyond standard office hours. We see ourselves as a reliable partner working hand in hand with our clients to achieve their business objectives. One of our main, and unique, selling propositions is our fast and efficient decision-making process, enabling timely execution.” The process involved in structuring a property development transaction has a number of steps, Mr Zammit affirms, laying out what is involved. “In the initial stages, we conduct a thorough due diligence exercise on the prospective borrower. This usually includes a review of their track record in property development. After that we focus on understanding our client’s project, identifying the relative business objectives to tailor a package focused on these specific requirements. During this phase, we perform a comprehensive analysis of the valuations,

projections and budgeted costings. The objective is to maintain prudent lending standards while serving creditworthy borrowers.” Developers can also benefit from FIMBank Direct, FIMBank’s recently launched digital banking system. “FIMBank Direct is a secure digital banking platform, which allows customers to perform a multitude of corporate banking transactions online with complete peace of mind,” says Ms Said. “Through this platform, developers are able to open current accounts, savings accounts and fixed term deposits, and can perform both local and multi-currency payments. FIMBank Direct is equipped with best-of-breed

“We believe the best way to service the requirements of our real estate clients is to evaluate and respond to evolving market conditions, and to develop products which address these realities.” FIMBank’s Head of Real Estate, Jason Zammit 86

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“Our clients benefit from our expertise, skills and in-depth knowledge of the local property market.” FIMBank’s Vice President, Maria Said security features, where clients may log in and perform payment transactions through the FIMBank CAM App, with no need to carry an additional hardware token.” Looking towards the future for FIMBank, Mr Zammit outlines the bank’s vision. “An approach to building new vertical lines of business conforms with FIMBank’s overall strategy – that is, developing innovative and quality banking solutions that adapt to changing market conditions,” he says. The bank’s value proposition is ultimately what its positioning allows – the combination of traditional banking and advanced technology, which provides clients with high value-added products and quality service. “We are fortunate in that we do not have SEPTEMBER 2017

any legacy issues; hence we can view real estate business with an open mind, being constantly receptive to innovation and new ideas. Notwithstanding, we are mindful of the fact that customers require easy access to their relationship officer. At FIMBank, we pride ourselves on the fact that you can always talk to your banker, and that business is conducted on a one-to-one basis. We therefore invite developers to come and discuss their forthcoming projects with us, and experience the new face of Real Estate Finance.” cc For further information regarding the FIMBank Developer Suite contact realestate@fimbank.com or call on 2132 2100.​ 87


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Preserving the past for the present and future Despite their inherent attractiveness as fascinating places of interest in their own right, drawing local and foreign visitors to sites and museums of national heritage requires staying ahead of the game by embracing new business development models, which is just what Heritage Malta is endeavouring to do, as Martina Said finds out.

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n 2016, Heritage Malta, the national agency for museums, conservation practice and cultural heritage, welcomed a whopping 1.28 million visitors to its sites, reaching an all-time high despite planned closures of a number of sites, including the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, the Palace State Rooms and the opening of Fort St Angelo to the public for only two months. In 2015, the number of visitors admitted to the agency’s museums and sites reached 1.1 million, with the most popular attractions being the Ggantija Temples in Gozo, the Palace Armoury and State Rooms, Hagar Qim and Tarxien Temples. This year, there are plans to top the record figure achieved in 2016. Noel Zammit, Head of ICT and Corporate Services at Heritage Malta, asserts that, compared to last year, 2017 so far has been a slower year. “However, we’re aiming for an increase of six per cent over 2016 by the end of the year. The slow-down was largely caused by the closure of two major sites, the Palace State Rooms and the Hypogeum, due to commitments related to Malta’s EU Presidency and conservation works respectively. Both sites have now been re-opened to the public. At face value, the EU Presidency appears to have affected our numbers negatively. However, the mediumto long-term effects are nothing but positive, and the feedback received from Heads of State who visited our cultural sites is something to be proud of.” Mr Zammit says various factors contribute to visitor numbers, a main one being inbound tourism, but not just. “Record figures in inbound tourism directly correlate to SEPTEMBER 2017

admissions to our sites,” he explains, “as well as the quality of our product, which has improved drastically over the past eight years. Other important factors include increased investment in marketing initiatives, arrangements with external stakeholders, the strategic positioning of our product in global markets through target marketing, value adding initiatives and improved pricing strategies.” With inbound tourism being a major contributor to visitor numbers at Heritage Malta sites, there are risks of unsustainability should inbound tourism take a hit locally. Can an upward trend be sustained by Heritage Malta independently of tourist figures? “In theory, should inbound tourism decrease, our numbers should decrease proportionally. However, there are other variables in the equation,” says Mr Zammit, “such as the purchasing power of the tourist and how much s/he is willing to spend on cultural visits. The effects of a hypothetical decrease in tourism can be overcome by positioning our unique products in the right markets and to a cultural savvy audience, therefore increasing visitors to our sites.” The agency also seeks to continually invest in all sites and museums, especially those that attract the most numbers, in order to enhance return visits and continue improving online ratings on sites such as TripAdvisor, Facebook and Twitter. “A heavy online presence is a must in today’s day and age. Engaging with audiences has never been so effective with online tools and destination websites. We have a following of over 17,000 fans on the agency’s Facebook page, and

have another page for almost every museum and site we manage,” he adds. “Earlier this year, we concluded a collaboration agreement with Google wherein most Heritage Malta museums and sites are integrated with a Street Maps service and can be visited virtually. Being proactive, creating synergies with stakeholders and analysing business intelligence is definitely the way forward to keep up the numbers. We’ve amassed almost 10 years of data from our points of sale, the website and social media, which continuously need to be analysed and triangulated to generate trends – and this can give us a competitive advantage even at a global level.”

“Record figures in inbound tourism directly correlate to admissions to our sites.” 89


CC CASE STUDY Besides appealing to foreign visitors, Heritage Malta has also undertaken initiatives recently to up the number of local visitors, namely through the introduction of the student scheme, where every primary school child received a membership card that enables them to visit Heritage Malta museums for free and unlimitedly, any time they wish, while also giving a 50 per cent discount to the parent or guardian. “We have also opened our doors to event hosting such as weddings, receptions, product launches, conferences, corporate team building activities and more,” says Mr Zammit. “We’re working on the organisation of thematic dinners, where we present a culinary experience by offering dinners and recipes from different periods in history linked to the location of the event. This has been particularly successful at the Malta Maritime Museum, where we offered 16th and 18th century menus, and Heritage Malta is now looking towards other venues including Fort St Angelo and Fort St Elmo. Additionally, the agency’s Education Department plays a vital role in bringing more locals to our museums, by increasing awareness and knowledge among the scores of school children we host every year – over 40,000 – through edutainment and ‘learn as you play’ exercises.” By making sites of such historic value available for corporate and national events, some of Malta’s most astonishing venues get to be enjoyed by the public in an alternative setting, but, on the downside, they also risk getting exposed to unfavourable conditions and, potentially, damage. Mr Zammit asserts that the overarching objective of Heritage Malta is to safeguard its cultural assets and make them accessible for the enjoyment of the public. “In itself, this statement may be interpreted as contradictory, since to ‘safeguard’ or ‘protect’ an asset would require making it as inaccessible as possible. However, safeguarding our heritage and making it accessible is a very costly business that cannot rely solely on admission

“So far, the agency managed to secure over €250,000 from donations through the citizenship programme.” fees. This is just one of the reasons why the agency has opened up some of its venues for special events and functions. Also, varying the use of Heritage Malta’s properties has introduced it to new and different audiences.” Mr Zammit states that the agency takes all the necessary precautions to preserve its assets, in line with its primary objective to safeguard and protect Malta’s heritage. “We do not allow or take any risks when renting out a venue, and every necessary precaution is taken into account when an event is organised. In fact, every museum and site has different contract terms and conditions, which have been customised for each particular location. For instance, no naked flame equipment is allowed at most venues, no fireworks are allowed and, in some cases, such as the Grand Salon of the National Museum of Archaeology, we do not allow food and drinks, but offer an alternative adjacent hall where refreshments can be consumed. The revenue generated from these events goes directly into the upkeep and maintenance of the sites themselves, and also of course into the promotion and marketing of these sites. We do set targets to fund particular projects through these events, but of course, some of the funds have to be re-injected into the venue itself to

“Through an agreement with Google, most Heritage Malta museums and sites are integrated with a Street Maps service and can be visited virtually.”

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ensure a sustainable business model.” The operational expenditure of Heritage Malta is approximately €12 million annually. Mr Zammit explains that Government injects circa €5 million per year, and the agency generates more than €5 million from admission fees. The rest is revenue generated from business development, merchandise and publications sold in Heritage Malta museum shops, and the rental of the agency’s sites and museums as event venues. “We engage as much as possible with corporate firms for potential patronage and sponsors, and so far, the agency has managed to secure over €250,000 from donations through the citizenship programme. This has proved to be a very important source of income to embark on projects which otherwise would have been kept on the back burner due to expenditure prioritisation and opportunity cost. Projects underway through these funds include the 3D documentation of the Grand Salon at the National Museum of Archaeology, the funding of storage and showcases for our Natural History collection, the Bells and Chimes project at the Malta Maritime Museum, the restoration of various artefacts including the furniture that will be displayed at MUZA in 2018, as well as the implementation of educational tools using mobile technology and augmented reality at the Inquisitor’s Palace, among others.” Mr Zammit highlights that business development initiatives in themselves can be a significant source of revenue where, apart from rental of venues, Heritage Malta will also be investing in the promotion of patronage programmes and ‘adopt an artefact’ type of sponsors. “These are all business development initiatives which can generate revenue to fund special projects. For instance, Arts Council Malta launched a Tax Deduction scheme through which a private entity can become a ‘patron of the arts’. Companies giving financial donations to organisations engaged in arts and culture can benefit from a 150 per cent tax deduction of up to €50,000 on donations given. I would like to see more incentives of this kind to entice more support towards preserving our unique cultural heritage.” cc SEPTEMBER 2017


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New businesses on the block From culinary sustainability to gaming apps, Malta’s start-up scene is buzzing. Here Jo Caruana meets four dynamic young entrepreneurs all eagerly pursuing their business goals.

JP Debono recently launched Danny’s – an innovative foodie concept in Mriehel that’s focused on fresh, seasonal ingredients. “Setting up a business has been an interesting learning curve so far. My brother Fabien and I are running the company together – I am focused on the food and he’s focused on the business, so we’re learning how to collaborate and it’s working out great. I would say the most exciting moment so far has been securing our site on the Mriehel Bypass, as it was exactly what we were looking for. “The kitchen is my second home and I SEPTEMBER 2017

have loved working in kitchens since I was 15. The business is actually named after our father, Daniel, who has always encouraged us to pursue our own paths and, together, we have created a brand that promises our guests something fresh, delicious and with a great story behind it. “I think the start-up environment in Malta is changing slowly. Encouraging people to start their own businesses makes for an interesting ecosystem within whichever sector the company operates in, and Malta has a vibrant food scene that keeps getting better and better. Besides feeding people, we hope to educate them too – so seasonality and freshness are cornerstones

of our ethos. “When it comes to being an entrepreneur in Malta, you need an open mind combined with the humility to accept direction from others who’ve done it before and are willing to guide you. Guts and determination are also essential, and you can’t be scared to be different – it will help you stand out. The changing environment in the start-up scene has certainly helped us evolve collectively rather than to accept the same old, same old. “Over the next few months we will be focused on making Danny’s a profitable business while staying true to our values; it won’t be easy but we’re determined to make it work.” 93


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“You need an open mind combined with the humility to accept direction from others who’ve done it before and are willing to guide you.” JP Debono, Danny’s Andrew Farrugia and his business partner Craig Macdonald create locally-inspired prints for beautiful spaces through their artistic company, Te fit-Tazza. “The idea behind Te fit-Tazza began in my 20s, when I spent three years travelling, studying and working in Japan and Canada. When I returned to Malta, I started working in the hospitality industry, which helped nurture my appreciation for the little gems our island is graced with. I was also lucky enough to meet Craig on a project some time ago and this new-found friendship evolved into a business partnership. In August last year, we launched 30 prints – all inspired by Malta and with their own story to tell. That’s how Te fit-Tazza was officially born. “The company itself took us around 18 months to launch, and our first key milestone came when we confirmed our first print.

We went through many samples but were determined not to settle – we knew we wanted quality. Once that first print arrived there was no turning back and we progressed to our first exhibition – Series 1, the Elements of Malta. It’s been an incredible experience so far. “When I think of the start-up scene in general, I believe people locally react well to it. In the last year, I have been lucky enough to meet many of our customers, and have felt the sense of community and support that comes from being a new, small business. In my opinion, we are experiencing an increase in the number of young entrepreneurs achieving great things on an international level; I hope this synergy will keep fine-tuning the way for future generations. After all, persistence is crucial. Things will get hard at some point, but it’s important to keep striving for what you believe in. “Now, we’re celebrating our first year of Te fit-Tazza and plan to release five new prints that celebrate summer on the island. Our next main project will be the creation of Series 2, which we’d like to release in time for Christmas.”

“We are experiencing an increase in the number of young entrepreneurs achieving great things on an international level.” Andrew Farrugia, Te fit-Tazza 94

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Luca Amato, Steve Zammit Briffa and Patrick Camilleri are behind POANG – a Maltese game development company. Here Luca shares their story so far. “It was 2014 when Steve was looking for a new project, and he approached me at a wedding with an idea for a fantasy football game app. I was interested and, a few meetings (and beers) later, a more concrete plan was formed. It was obvious that our team was not complete and we needed someone who could take care of the IT aspect, so I got in touch with Patrick and he fit right in, contributing not only to the coding side but also to the business as a

whole. It’s been quite a journey, and our app went live in mid-August on iOS Appstore, Google Play, web and Facebook Gamesroom. “There have been a number of key milestones so far, including the launch of the alpha version in June 2016, which was a very primitive, web-based version that we used to gauge market reception and validate our idea. It was received well. Then, in September 2016, we entered a financial forecast period where we determined the funds that would be required to get the project launched. We approached Harvest Technology, the technology division of Hili Ventures, for venture capital funding. Thus began a six-month process of due diligence where we quite literally examined every

What is your top tip for other budding entrepreneurs? JP: Do what you love to do. Malta’s an amazing place to live and you can dream big on a small island so it gives you the best of both worlds. Follow your dreams! Andrew: Work smart and don’t be afraid to try new things. The business world is a constant flow of challenges and opportunities. Learning how to identify them at an early stage of a major project can have a huge impact on the results. Luca: Starting a business is a mix of highs and lows. Things go great one day and horribly the next, and sometimes it’s very tempting to just stop. It helps to keep positive and visualise the end goal, which is essentially your business succeeding, to give you that extra drive. Edward: Focus all your energy on the execution of your idea – focus on the hunger that all entrepreneurs have within them. In addition, become a ‘sponge’ around the people you want to learn from and absorb anything they can offer you.

“Initiatives such as Silicon Valletta, Heyday and Take Off at the University of Malta are great fora for meeting likeminded individuals.” Luca Amato, POANG SEPTEMBER 2017

aspect of the business and stress-tested the model in every way imaginable. After further agreements and the acceleration of the product development, we reached launch stage. “When it comes to the start-up scene in Malta, I think it is picking up, slowly but surely. An increasing number of entrepreneurs are willing to take the plunge into the (business) unknown, and there is definitely a community of young individuals who share common ideals and are very keen to share knowledge. Initiatives such as Silicon Valletta, Heyday and Take Off at the University of Malta are great fora for meeting likeminded individuals. “Being an entrepreneur in Malta requires the same qualities as it would anywhere else. Without wanting to regurgitate a timehonoured cliché, it is, first and foremost, a lot of hard work – especially when you don’t have the resources to launch into the business full-time from Day One. 97


CC BUSINESS In our case, we kept our full-time jobs for two years before taking the plunge. We would meet on weekdays at 8pm and work until 1am, sometimes more. Throw in a toddler running around during meetings and you can really picture the scene! “Secondly, you have to be willing to leave your comfort zone. Business is an intrinsically unstable activity, more so when launching a hit-or-miss product like a game. Some people are happy to take that risk and others aren’t. Being one of the former is a useful quality. Finally, the fact that we live in Malta does help to a certain extent, since we are a tight-knit community where people tend to have wide networks of contacts. “As for the immediate future of POANG, our focus over the coming months will be tracking the game and marketing performance, and releasing new game features. Our plan is to gauge reception and, if it is successful, to export it to new territories, particularly emerging markets that are experiencing very fast growth, such as Africa and the Middle East. We are also considering re-skinning it for other team sports.”

Nightlife ‘package’ Malta MVP was recently founded by Edward Tortell, Thomas Grech, Lloyd Bonello, Andrew Mercieca and Calvin Jurkovic and, together, they believe it has grown into a concept that can revolutionise clubbing in Malta. Here Edward talks us through their progress so far. “Malta MVP started out like many other businesses – as a wild, hare-brained idea that was doomed to fail! But we all refused to let it go and went back to it, refined it and, after months of work, launched it. “My early background in the entertainment and hospitality sector helped to give me insight into the industry, while my career in commercial banking gave me the exposure

Thomas Grech

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“Determination and commitment are the lynch-pins to success.” Edward Tortell, MVP I needed in the business world. I think all of that helped in the beginning, along with the fact that we have a diverse team that enabled us to cover many bases. “I think our most memorable milestone so far was our launch night, when our product finally hit the market and all our stress finally paid off. The product itself is a wristband that gives uses access to the best-possible deals

on everything from clubbing to food. It was well-received and our clients were over the moon about the amount of money they could save on their weekly nights out. “In our experience, though, Malta’s response to start-ups has been mixed – there is always someone who will try to give you reasons why the business will fail. On the other side of the spectrum, though, we found a lot of support from our close friends, mentors, business partners and previous clients, who went out of their way to help us build on our vision. There’s no doubt that determination and commitment are the lynch-pins to success. Ultimately, none of this would get us anywhere if we were incapable of communicating our message to the leaders of the top entertainment establishments in Malta. At Malta MVP, we are indeed lucky that within our team, we collectively have the qualities to see us through! “We’re now gearing up for the winter months and the opportunities they will bring; we want to ensure we are well-prepared and ready to go on the offense – so our goal is to work on ways of making our product even more valuable than it already is. We will be going after and partnering up with as many quality establishments as possible to ensure our clientele receive one of, if not the, best experience within Malta’s touristic scene.” cc SEPTEMBER 2017


CC DEBATE

Melita-Vodafone merger will prove to be a game-changer for Malta If approved by the regulatory authority, the proposed Melita-Vodafone merger will prove to be a game changer for the local telecommunications sector. Manuel Zarb speaks to the CEOs of Melita, Vodafone Malta and GO, as well as the Director General of the MCCAA Competition Office, to discuss the implications of the merger and how Maltese consumers will be affected if it goes ahead.

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n 31st May 2017, Apax Partners Midmarket SAS, which currently controls Melita Limited, filed a transaction whereby Vodafone Malta would be integrated into MelitaLink Limited (Melita’s holding company), effectively merging Vodafone Malta and Melita into one entity. The MCCAA Competition Office, which can approve or reject the transaction, has expressed concerns that the move could limit competition. Whilst the effects of the merger are controversial, all three of the main players in the telecoms market – Melita, Vodafone Malta and GO – agree that the merger would have a big impact for business and consumers, with wide-reaching ramifications for the mobile, telephone, TV and internet markets in Malta. Melita CEO Harald Rösch argues that despite concerns that the merger could limit competition, it will actually increase it. “The

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merger will bring stronger competition on all fronts, which will ultimately benefit the end consumer in many ways. To date, Maltese customers have benefitted from competitive pricing on fixed internet access, with Malta’s pricing for these services equivalent to or even cheaper than the rest of Europe. This has only been possible because of strong infrastructural competition between Melita’s broadband network and Go’s fibre infrastructure.” The same can’t be said, says Mr Rösch, when it comes to mobile use. “To date, Maltese mobile users are paying one of the highest rates in Europe. The reason for this is a matter of size – with Malta being so small, operators in Malta need to invest much more

per user when compared to other operators in the EU, who can spread their costs across many more mobile subscribers. This merger will make it possible for Melita and Vodafone to spread the required investment across more customers, making it possible to provide an even better service at a better price.” At present, GO is the only full service telecoms operator, so the merger will give consumers more choice, Vodafone CEO Amanda Nelson argues. “Vodafone and Melita have very complementary strengths. Vodafone will be the brand for consumer and enterprise services, but customers of both Vodafone and Melita will get access to a much broader range of services.

“The merger will bring stronger competition on all fronts, which will ultimately benefit the end consumer in many ways.” Harald Rösch, CEO, Melita

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“The combined Melita and Vodafone will be able to compete by providing a full range of services powered by our 4G and cable networks.” Amanda Nelson, CEO, Vodafone

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For businesses, this will create a much more competitive enterprise market where companies can choose from two full service operators rather than just GO.” Explaining GO’s current dominance, Ms Nelson says that GO is currently the only operator in Malta to offer 4G, along with a strong network of fixed services, using the legacy fixed line network it inherited from Maltacom. The merger would create a competitor of equal strength to GO. “The combined Melita and Vodafone will be able to compete by providing a full range of services powered by our 4G and cable networks. Both businesses and consumers increasingly want to purchase telecoms services like mobile, fixed line, broadband and TV in bundles, which are more convenient and often have price advantages. “In the enterprise segment, where GO is the strongest player, there will be a real choice for all business customers, large and small. We will be able to deliver products and services which we are currently unable to offer. For example, Vodafone’s Global Enterprise unit would for the first time be able to promote the

benefits of setting up in Malta, combining their 4G and global support with Melita’s fixed line centre and data centre.” GO CEO Attila Keszeg, however, believes that the proposed move should not be classified as a merger. “This is not a merger, it is a Melita takeover of Vodafone Malta. The Office for Competition in fact refers to Melita’s ‘acquisition of sole control’ of Vodafone – Melita will be purchasing a majority stake in the new company, so it is Melita that will be in control.” This situation, he says, has significant implications and raises questions on how Melita will recover the cost of its investment. “Melita’s need to recoup the cost of the acquisition, coupled with a situation in which there is a market duopoly, will inevitably create upward pressure when it comes to pricing. That has to be a major concern for the authorities, the business community, and consumers.” Another concern for Mr Keszeg is the mobile telephony market, within which Vodafone and Melita held over 60 per cent of the market share combined at the end of 2016, with GO controlling about 38 per cent. “Combining Vodafone and Melita’s mobile businesses will give the new entity a very dominant position in that segment. SEPTEMBER 2017


CC DEBATE

This, coupled with the fact that Melita’s nationwide fixed line internet capability is very strong, further increases the risk of having one operator establishing a dominant position.” Melita CEO Harold Rösch, however, insists that the move will be a good thing for consumers. “With this merger, following their respective technology investments, Melita and Vodafone will be able to offer high-quality, converged services on both fixed and mobile networks. This will give consumers a real choice.” The plan, he says, is to build on each other’s strengths. “Vodafone is the market leader in mobile, with an award-winning network and the highest customer service standard. Melita, on the other hand, is the market leader in fixed internet and TV, with the fastest and best broadband network on the island. With the merger we will be able to offer the best of both worlds to our customers – the latest technologies and quality products, combined with top-notch customer care across all services.” According to Vodafone Malta CEO Amanda Nelson, one of the primary benefits of the deal will be a better overall mobile service. “All existing Melita customers will SEPTEMBER 2017

benefit from an improvement in 3G mobile data coverage and speeds. They will also have the opportunity to upgrade to a 4G and 4G+ experience, while still benefitting from the convenience of a converged package. Meanwhile, Melita’s commitment to delivering a service whereby calls are answered within 30 seconds will apply to the combined entity, as will Melita’s Service Guarantees, including installation within 48 hours and repair in case of outage in 24 hours.” She also highlights how customers of the new entity would enjoy a high standard of customer service. “The combined entity will provide the excellent customer service which has become the hallmark of Vodafone. Vodafone has access to state-of-the-art training on customer experience for all levels of staff, and an accreditation process for all frontline workers, and that training will be rolled out to Melita staff and made fully available to the combined entity.” Whilst GO has serious concerns about the proposed merger, it isn’t worried the new entity will threaten its position in relation to its local mobile network, says CEO Attila Keszeg. “When we developed our 4G network we ensured it was fully fibre connected.

“Combining Vodafone and Melita’s mobile businesses will give the new entity a very dominant position in that segment.” Attila Keszeg, CEO, GO

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“The Office has up to four months to make a final decision on whether the planned merger is compatible with the Control of Concentrations Regulations.” Godwin Mangion, Director General (Competition), MCCAA

This means that we are is a position to launch 4G+ in the most densely populated and high demand areas on the very day that the regulator allocates frequencies for the commercial launch of this service – this inbuilt advantage will secure our position as the best mobile network for some time to come.” This, says Mr Keszeg, shows that by having a long-term plan and investing in your business, you can position yourself to meet evolving market realities. “Until now, our competitors have also been investing in their respective networks and not only in the mobile sector. Therefore, the acquisition is not the only way forward; over the years, a strategy of appropriate levels of investment has worked for the market and for the three operators themselves, and this remains an option. “Then again, there are dangers that should not be underestimated,” he warns, maintaining, “the combined entity would be dominant in the mobile market, and this coupled with Melita’s need to recover the cost of acquiring Vodafone is likely to reduce their appetite to invest, not increase it. In other words, the acquisition will not help the new entity to challenge GO’s position as the best network in Malta but may negatively impact future investment across the board.” On safeguarding consumer welfare, Mr Keszeg maintains that the MCCAA is rightly taking the issue very seriously. “If the authority does decide to approve the acquisition, safeguards will be needed. Our view is that one needs to ensure that the market remains genuinely open to any potential new entrant. Precedents from other recent merger cases in other EU markets provide plenty of examples of what is required.” Asked what will be done to safeguard consumer welfare if the merger goes forward, Melita CEO Harold Rösch affirms that Melita will make sure that the consumer benefits from the merger in every way. “Apart from providing the consumer with a real choice on converged services, thus pushing for more competitive pricing, customer service will be at the very core of the merged company. Ever since Melita changed owners in 2016, we have made 106

significant investments in quality, and our customers have given us feedback saying they’ve seen great progress.” The Vodafone CEO is also quick to emphasise that a passion for excellent customer service will be at the core of the combined entity. Besides, she claims more competitive pricing will result from the merger. “We understand customer concerns on future pricing, and we can categorically state that the combined entity will be in a position to offer better prices to its customers, while further improving the quality of service and products. “It is also our full intention to have offers that cater for everyone’s future needs. As a merged company, we will be in an even stronger position to offer new services at cheaper rates than possible today, such as bundles that give mobile and home fixed services together. Customers will benefit from increased competition, better prices and, ultimately, a richer variety of products and services.” Finally, Godwin Mangion, the MCCAA Director General (Competition), weighs in on the regulator’s investigation into the Melita-Vodafone merger, which was launched on 12th July to assess whether

the move should be allowed. “The Phase II investigation will mainly consist of an in-depth analysis of the likely effects of concentration on market competition. Such analysis includes the concentration of the market and to what extent the notifying parties can be considered as competitors, the degree of substitutability between different products, and the incentives for the merged company and its competitors to increase prices post-merger due to the loss of competition between the merging parties.” To conclude, Mr Mangion delves into the ‘claimed efficiencies’ of the merger – for such a deal to be allowed, he says, the companies involved must prove that efficiency will increase, with the consumer benefitting from this. “Such efficiencies must be verifiable and merger specific, and most of all likely to be passed onto the consumers. The Office has up to four months to make a final decision on whether the planned merger is compatible with the Control of Concentrations Regulations. This can be extended by an additional month if the parties offer commitments and request an extension in order for the commitments to be properly considered.” cc SEPTEMBER 2017


01. Portuguese food With Lisbon gaining a reputation as a hot travel destination, Portuguese food has been thrust into the spotlight right along with it. Among the most popular delicacies are the Portuguese custard tart, which is already the pastry du jour in London, as well as salt cod, rice pudding and spicy sausage. Might be time to book some flights!

02. Udon noodles

Sarcastic Cooking

2017 is the year for foodie favourite ramen to give up its space on the noodle throne (if there ever was such a thing). This year, its chunkier sister, Udon, seems set to take centre stage, as is evidenced by a number of Japanese imports in the US. Featuring a variety of delightful dishes in which these fat, chewy noodles really shine, places like Osaka-based chain TsuruTonTan in New York are leading the trend, with international eateries following suit.

04. Fried chicken Sometimes, all you really want on a lazy weekend morning is a moreish cooked breakfast, and while many of us have come to recognise the main ingredients comprising a full English fry up as tough to beat, we may be looking at a game changer. Southern American classic fried chicken has been replacing bacon in some of the trendiest breakfast spots across the pond, and frankly, we’re intrigued.

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05. American pizza pie In Malta, many of us are partial to the crisp, Neapolitan style of pizza making, but while this Italian classic isn’t going anywhere, the old-school doughy American ‘pie’ style is set to be a major food trend this year. A decidedly richer (and let’s face it) fattier option, the deep-pan style is one we’ve come to associate with pizza places from our childhood, and with US pizza chain Domino’s joining the local ranks this year, we’re all set for a little indulgence.

06. Ice-cream roll ups If you haven’t seen at least one of the viral videos of these ice-cream roll ups being made on your social media this summer, you’ve clearly been missing out. This innovative ice-cream treat finds its origins in Thailand, and is made by pouring milk, mixed fruit and other ingredients onto an iced pan, breaking them all down into an ice-cream paste and scraping it into little rolls – divine! cc

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FOOD&WINE

Supergolden Bakes

From national dishes to classic comfort food and some unexpected foodie combinations, Sarah Micallef unveils some of the latest food trends.

As if milkshakes weren’t naughty enough, a number of restaurants and eateries have started offering boozy varieties – we’re looking at you, Fat Louie’s! Drinkable desserts with a boozy twist have become a popular option this summer, and why not? They’re the perfect sweet treat with a little kick, and the perfect solution when you just can’t make your mind up between going out for milkshakes or cocktails!

Eater

03. Alcoholic milkshake

02. Breadcrumbs

Food trends

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Kremo

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CC make the headlines

Peace of mind is priceless As parents, we do our utmost to safeguard our family at all times. We go through great lengths to ensure that their needs are seen to, and their safety is always a top priority. Equipping our home with basic firefighting equipment like fire extinguishers, and teaching

our children basic fire-fighting skills can be life-altering. We should never underestimate our children’s quick reaction time, and how less likely they are to panic than their adult counterparts, in case of an emergency. There are many ways in which our home can be safer. From equipping the premises with a CCTV system to be able to keep an eye on our loved ones when travelling to installing an intercom to see who is at the door before

opening, many small installations can make a big difference. Having a safe installed to stow away valuables and an intruder alarm to alert you in case of unwanted visitors are just a few of the options that can offer you that sense of security. A sufficient amount of money is spent on making a home look beautiful and feel welcoming, but it’s certainly worth investing a bit more to make it safer… because peace of mind, after all, is priceless. cc Firetech Ltd, 99, Mill Street, Qormi. T: 2278 5200; E: info@firetech.com.mt; www.firetech.com.mt


CC make the headlines

A leader in aluminium apertures and systems From its origins, Horvin has been a leader in the design and manufacture of aluminium apertures and systems which have been fully developed and are capable of providing solutions to meet any requirements. It has managed to strike a perfect balance between meeting corporate objectives and offering the highestquality, most innovative products. Our first aim is to provide an excellent service to our customers.

Horvin Ltd A42 Industrial Estate, Marsa specialises in: } Roller shutter systems installed in window and door openings to protect premises from break-ins and intrusion, sun rays, wind, rain, noise, etc. They are strong, reliable and environmentally friendly. Roller shutter systems perform a number of important functions. } Thermal Break apertures for insulation of doors, windows and curtain wall framing using a thermal separator between the inner and outer frames. The separator is assembled with extruded aluminium profiles, becoming what is commonly known as a thermal break. The thermal break acts as an insulator and prevents energy loss from the heat inside the building to the cold outside and vice versa, reducing energy consumption in buildings. } Venetian blinds within double glazing known as integral blinds – basically, blinds which are sealed between two sheets of glass. This provides a stylish, clean, easily maintained and inconspicuous blind system. They also add privacy and light control.

} Aluminium stainless steel finish railings for style and durability, for balconies and stairs. } Glass railings to gain the luxury of the surroundings views. } Security main doors available also in fireresistant material. } Aluminium sliding roofs, both manual and motorised, as well as sky lights. } High quality automation systems for main entrances in establishments and shops. cc

Irresistible Chablis The steep, rocky slopes that extend to the right and left bank of the river Serein are the birthplace of a long history. This is where the unique Kimmeridgian terroir, alternating marl and marly limestone, imbues Chablis with minerality and great freshness. These are vinous characteristics, envied and often imitated around the world, but never matched. Over the centuries, Chablis has grown in reputation and built on its natural assets to become one of Burgundy’s great vineyards. 1959, the year in which William Fèvre declared his first crop, marked the birth of the domain. Descended from a family which had lived in the Chablis region for over 250 years, it was only natural that he set up as a winemaker with seven hectares of vineyards. Over the years, the domain has acquired new vineyards in Chablis, all located in the historic terroirs. William Fèvre has become one of the biggest land owners in Chablis, with 78 hectares of prestigious vineyard (of which 15.9 are classified as Premiers Crus and 15.2 as Grand Crus). 112

Domaine William Fèvre works passionately to express Chablis’ terroirs, respecting the region’s environment and traditional practices. The team works throughout the year with care and precision to achieve excellence and reveal the true characteristics of each climate. William Fèvre has put sustainable practices in place for growing in its vineyards and has obtained High Environmental Value (HVE) status. Two-thirds of the domain’s vineyards have

been grown organically since 2006, with biodynamic methods in use since 2010. This 2015 Chablis wine has a fresh and expressive nose. It exhibits notes of lemon, apple and melon with accents of oyster shell and seashore. There are refined and precise medium weight flavours, particularly on the moderately long finish. The mouthwatering finish lingers well, echoing citrus and stone elements. cc Distributed by Red October Co Ltd. www.redoctobermalta.com SEPTEMBER 2017


Office trends

STYLE

The lines between open office spaces and cosy nooks and crannies reminiscent of home continue to blur in office design trends. Martina Said discovers what’s in and what’s on its way out.

As employees spend increasingly more hours at work, there’s the drive to create a work environment that caters for ‘down time’ in the form of lounge rooms, shared kitchens, coffee corners, resting zones and library areas which evolve the office space from one that’s completely formal to one which is casual and more akin to (a finely furnished) home.

01. Secluded spaces

05. Furniture inspired by fun

Open plan has been the office layout of choice for a good decade or so, believed to encourage collaboration between employees. However, companies and designers are increasingly moving towards creating private spaces within an open plan setting, using table dividers, installing silent rooms and putting sound proof phone booths around the office.

02. Natural textures Nothing and no one offers inspiration like Mother Nature herself, and she never disappoints. Designers continue to use greys, greens and raw woods in their design aesthetic, alongside other raw materials that often take a backseat to the more popular ones, including canvas, cotton, leather, linen and wool. From sofas and desk chairs to wall art and décor, there really is no limit.

03. Wireless charging As the use of smartphones for work purposes continues to sky-rocket, so will logical and practical design. New office layouts are integrating mobile charging docks into desks, doing away with unsightly wires and chargers that clutter up workspaces.

REVIEW

04. Feels like home

Why have an ordinary chair when you can sit on something fun and playful? This range of stools and chairs from the Carnival collection designed by Ece Yalım Design Studio for Ersa was inspired by festivals and fairs with the aim of bringing fun and dynamism to workspaces. The colours are loud and vibrant, and the shapes and forms are quintessentially symbolic of the freedom and joy experienced at such events.

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06. Slick technology Millennials – vaguely described as the generation of youngsters who reached adulthood in the early 21st century – have dictated many an office design trend, and have also demanded a massive upgrade in office technology. Think wireless mice, headsets and keyboards, personal laptops, dual monitor set-ups, tablets, smartboards and game consoles. cc

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Reflecting an ethos The sleek new Sullivan Maritime reception area, located on the ground floor of the company’s offices at St Barbara Bastions in Valletta, encompasses an expert mix of warmth and style within a functional business setting. Paul Camilleri, Director of the camilleriparismode projects and design studio responsible for the project, speaks to Sarah Micallef about how it came to be. Design – camilleriparismode projects and design studio Carpentry – Trends Project Management & Contracting – Velpa Projects

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CC DESIGN TRENDS

“T

he brief was mainly to develop a functional reception/office space that was welcoming and at the same time reflected the company and its ethos,” explains Paul Camilleri, Director of the camilleriparismode projects and design studio, looking back on the project’s outset. The area the design team was tasked with transforming was the ground floor of the Sullivan Maritime offices, which comprised a reception and storage area which was already in use by the company. Speaking of what the space was like before works started, Paul describes the finish as dated and in a state of disrepair. “Marble had been used to clad all the walls, and this was showing clear

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Photos by Sean Mallia

signs of discoloration and wear,” he explains, adding, “the circulation of the space wasn’t well planned and was quite unwelcoming, with a desk blocking the entrance to the stairs. The décor in general did not reflect the company’s corporate identity, with a hotchpotch of materials and styles throughout.” Upon commencement, one of the team’s main concerns was reflecting the company’s identity within the project. “We focused on introducing mahogany slats to immediately link to the maritime aspect,” Paul says, creating a connection between the company’s offices and the industry within which it operates.

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Another primary consideration was to imbue the entrance with a welcoming feeling, as well as rethinking the location of the reception desk so as to create a functional space that would be easier to navigate through. “With the employees having already worked within the space for several years, we discussed what was needed in detail with them, in order to see what needed to be improved,” Paul says, highlighting storage space as an issue that had to be tackled with urgency, as it emerged that they previously had no way of concealing printers and numerous files. “With this in mind, the wall behind the main desk was built up as a floorto-ceiling storage space. The entrance to the storage room was opened up to create an open-plan desk space with storage of its own concealed behind wooden slat cladding on the inner wall,” he continues. In order to give more prominence to the wooden desk, the design team utilised dark grey panelling behind the desk, which doubled up as floor-to-ceiling storage that can be easily opened up through the use of sliding doors. “The previously closed-up meeting room, which was in fact never in use, was opened up as part of the rest of the space,” he continues, “defined only by the dark walls and wooden slats. This added a more functional two-person working space, with more storage hidden behind the slatted wooden walls.” 120

“We focused on introducing mahogany slats to immediately link to the maritime aspect.” Meanwhile, a thick beam which was previously running across the entrance was concealed by introducing a lower ceiling in wooden slats to define the entrance space. “The same slats were repeated vertically in

the same rhythm as the ceiling to line the wall adjacent to the entrance,” Paul states, explaining that “by introducing the lower slatted ceilings and walls, the entrance was distinct and created a clearer path to

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CC DESIGN TRENDS the reception desk. A gypsum soffit was introduced with a well-planned lighting layout for a workspace.” Looking at the finished space, it is clear that the prominent feature within the reception area is the mahogany desk. Its reversed diamond match veneer recalls a classic front desk, affirms Paul, who goes on to name mahogany as a material which features prominently within the overall design, further highlighted in the wooden slats, always keeping in mind the company’s maritime links. Meanwhile, the beautiful marble floor was retained and re-polished, giving the space a luxurious feel. Unfortunately however, the flooring in the lift area was in too bad a state to be retained, so rather than replacing it with the same marble in a new finish, the team chose to replace it with an entirely new marble – ‘grigio bardiglio’ – going on to clad the lift entrance in the same material. “This way, we created a visual barrier between the main reception area and the rest of the ground floor space,” Paul states, adding that with the main material used being mahogany, the rest of the grey colour palette was chosen to complement and highlight the beautiful tones of the wood.

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“The wall behind the main desk was built up as a floor-to-ceiling storage space.”

Turning his attention to colour scheme, he says, “a play of lighter and darker shades of grey were used. The lighter shades reflected more general light where it was needed, like in the staircase area, and the darker shades allowed for a more focused light, as in the

desk space.” The resulting space is one that is equal parts luxurious and welcoming – a striking yet warm reception area that serves as the introduction to a company whose ethos is masterfully reflected in its surroundings. cc

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The Commercial Courier September 2017  

The Official Business magazine of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise & Industry since 1947.

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