The Malta Chamber highlights business concerns with Prime Minister Abela

A delegation from The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, led by President Marisa Xuereb, met with Prime Minister Robert Abela as well as Ministers Miriam Dalli, Clyde Caruana and Silvio Schembri.

The Malta Chamber President started by congratulating Abela on the government’s electoral success. President Xuereb said that, “it has been a pleasure for The Malta Chamber to see Ministers with whom we have worked well in recent years reconfirmed and other Ministers to be given new portfolios which are of particular interest to business.”

Xuereb continued by saying that,“we feel that there has been a lot of thought in the choice of the new Cabinet, and efforts have been made to enable us to continue to build on the work that has already been done. We also appreciate that decisions have been taken, that may not have been easy, which have sent a significant message about the Government’s commitment to renewal.”

During the meeting, President Xuereb highlighted several issues including those related to:

– Maritime
– Environment and local planning
– Education
– Good governance
– Employment and human capital
– International reputation

The Malta Chamber remains committed to even further collaboration with the Government and all relevant authorities and stakeholders.

Hili Ventures appoints Archie Bethel CBE as its new Chairperson

Hili Ventures has appointed experienced business leader Archie Bethel CBE as its new Chairman.

Mr Bethel succeeds Steve Tarr who retired after a seven-year term on March 31. Mr Bethel will apply his broad experience in transforming and growing international businesses in a range of industry sectors to lead the board and set its agenda. He will guide directors to ensure optimal decision-making outcomes aligned with Hili Ventures’ values and core strengths.

In a career spanning more than four decades, Mr Bethel gained extensive international experience and has been responsible for acquiring, growing and operating major businesses around the world.

In 2021, after nearly 20 years with the company, Mr Bethel retired from his role as Chief Executive of Babcock International Group plc, a London-based FTSE listed public company operating globally in the defence, energy and aviation sectors. He continues to hold several non-executive and independent director roles in both the private and public sectors.

A Chartered Engineer, Mr Bethel began his career in the offshore oil and gas industry after graduating from the University of Strathclyde with a BSc in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA. In 2009, the university awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree. He was awarded an OBE in 1996 and a CBE in 2008 for Services to Business and Enterprise in the United Kingdom.

“I am honoured to be joining the Hili Ventures group at this exciting stage of its development,” Mr Bethel said. “I look forward to working with Melo and the board to deliver our ambitious growth plans.”

Melo Hili, Chief Executive Officer of Hili Ventures, said: “The shareholders are delighted that Archie has accepted to chair the Hili Ventures group. His appointment comes at a critical moment for the business as it looks to upscale its international presence and expansion in key areas. We are confident Archie’s leadership and experience will inspire us to reach major objectives as we navigate the ever-changing world order.”

Effective April 1, 2022, the board of Hili Ventures is composed of Archie Bethel (Chairman), Melo Hili, Annabel Hili, Victor Tedesco and Jesmond Mizzi.

Malta’s largest digital alliance formed

Zak & Benji, co-founders of ANCHOVY. plc and James & Matthew, co-founders of NIU Ltd. have announced the formation of a comprehensive technology and digital services group, known as Capital 9H Ltd., with the goal of creating the largest digital services offering in Malta and paving the way for an international growth programme in the rapidly growing sector. Subject to regulatory approval, both ANCHOVY Studios plc and NIU Ltd will now form part of the group, paving the way for the shaping of a leading digital technology player in Malta.

Capital 9H Ltd., will lead, own and manage both companies’ local market leadership position and technology talent base as an integrated digital offering providing each client-base with end-to-end digital services that will support them in their digital transformation journey. 9H plc is a result of the converged vision of the four founders, strengthening the local market offering whilst embarking on an exciting roadmap to internationally expand the group’s operations in the Middle East being the first territory to be targeted.

ANCHOVY plc, Malta’s leading digital agency that enjoys international recognition, disrupted the space years ago by establishing operations in the Middle East. By joining forces with NIU, Malta’s largest web technology, development and integration firm, the group is set to become the natural digital transformation partner for local businesses irrespective of size or maturity.

Founders, Benji Borg, James Abela, Zak Borg and Matthew Sammut believe this to be a major milestone in the evolution of Malta’s digital economy, reflecting the transformation aspirations of the country. They also underline the group’s intention to grow further by attracting other ventures with similar aspirations into its structure.

“The companies are a perfect complement to each other in terms of structure, function and culture. We believe that this new holding company, Capital 9H Ltd., will serve as a platform for more firms to join this journey, and attain their goals on an international stage. We are determined to keep extending our capabilities across the regions we operate in, partnering up with iconic brands in this increasingly always-on digital era”

Discover more at

The Malta Chamber and EY outline the current challenges and opportunities within the manufacturing industry

EY’s Industry Focus event on Manufacturing, held in collaboration with The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, provided current sector leaders with insights into the current state of affairs. The event and its expert speakers also delved into how Covid-19 pandemic, logistics challenges, sustainability considerations, trade tensions, conflict, inflation, and commodity shortages are forcing manufacturers to rethink their strategies and supply chains.

EY outlined the results from the Future of Manufacturing Survey carried out in March among leaders from local manufacturing firms, which was presented by Chris Naudi, Tax Partner, and Simon Barberi, Strategy and Transactions Director.

The biggest impacts on their business over the next 12-18 months include increases in materials, freight costs and labour shortages. On the other side of the spectrum, nearly three-fourths believe COVID-19 effects on demand for their products will be minimal to non-existent.

Impact on business over next 12-18 Months (Top 3)

The biggest challenges for their businesses over the next 12-18 months include difficulties in sourcing materials, increases in material and component costs, and labour shortages in the Maltese market. Material and component costs have increased at a higher rate than freight costs, while labour costs have increased the least for the sector.

Employee attrition into the Government and public sector is nearly as high as the rate of attrition into other manufacturing and related sectors, while the construction sector attracts the lowest number of manufacturing employees when leaving their companies.

When it comes to companies moving towards more sustainable activities, over half stated they need financial support or guidance to make this transition.

Firms were also asked about the recent FATF grey listing of Malta, which saw 70% state that their investment decisions have not been affected by the grey listing.

Marisa Xuereb, President of The Malta Chamber, providing her insights on the recent supply chains issues facing Malta, said: “Due to the current crisis, manufacturing companies need to make changes in their processes practically every day which requires a great deal of agility, but we also need to consider to what extent this situation offers some opportunities. The country also needs to be realistic about what is behind the rising energy costs, which were already rising before the conflict in Ukraine erupted. We need to invest in energy efficiency and renewables here on the island but be prepared for a green transition that will be costly.”

Building on the survey results, George Panagiotopoulos, Associate Partner, Consulting, Supply Chain & Operations, EY Greece, provided international context around the issues being faced. Mr Panagiotopolous said: “Although an increasing number of unexpected disruptions are hitting supply chains and impacting overall business performance, these external pressures are driving a shift towards more sustainable business practices. Manufacturers who invest in capability now for their people, ways of working and digital adoption, will be best poised for recovery and create long term resiliency. This resiliency will be achieved through people empowerment and accelerating the move to zero touch operations.”

A panel discussion Moderated by Ediana Guillaumier EY People Advisory Services Lead Lead, delved deeper into the issues. The panel featured; Fersun Akyuz, General Manager, CMA CGM; Brian Muscat, General Manager, Multi Packaging Limited & The Malta Chamber, Chairperson of the Manufacturing and Other Industries Economic Group; Martin Hignett, Managing Director, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions Malta; and Chris Balzan, Associate Partner, Assurance, EY Malta.

Finally, the event was closed off by Dr Marthese Portelli, CEO of The Malta Chamber:  “The manufacturing industry is one of the most resilient industries even when faced with multiple barriers, impediments and difficulties which could not have been foreseen or anticipated. The industry is experiencing an exorbitant increase in costs and this poses a serious threat to our competitiveness.  Over the past 2 weeks the industry has seen an additional increase of 180 euros per trailer each way, whether it is full or empty. And this on top of the astronomical increase in shipping costs experienced over the last couple of months.  Profitability and sustainability of these increased costs are at stake. There also remains the possibility that over time inflationary pressures in consumer markets will also lead to a contraction of demand, which is the stagflation scenario that most of Europe is fearing.”

Hili Properties plc completes €20m acquisition of Riga shopping centre

Hili Properties plc, the strategic real estate investment subsidiary of Hili Ventures, has completed the share purchase of the holding company of a prominent shopping centre in Riga. The total investment in this newest addition to Hili Properties’ portfolio – its seventh shopping complex in the Latvian capital – is €20 million.

The 7,863-square metre complex on Stirnu Street sits on a 21,580 square metre plot in one of the city’s most densely populated residential areas and enjoys a consistently high footfall from a strong catchment population. The property has been in commercial operation for 15 years and features Swedish-owned supermarket giant Rimi as its anchor tenant. Other major tenants include Dino Zoo, a market-leading pet supplies retailer; Pepco, a continental discount chain popular for childrenswear and household goods; and cosmetics chain Drogas which enjoys a presence on high streets across the Baltic states. The shopping centre also boasts more than 250 parking spaces for customers.

George Kakouras, Managing Director of Hili Properties said: “We are thrilled with this latest acquisition in Riga, particularly as it meets our investment strategy criteria: long-term leases, a renowned anchor tenant and stable cash flow generation from the first day of entry into our portfolio. It also fits well within our strategy to seek low risk, long-term investments. The property is a landmark in the city, and it is with great pride that we take over its management. We are looking forward to working with the tenants and building a relationship with every one of them, the visitors to the shopping centre, and the local community. There is so much potential to fulfil.”

With this latest acquisition, Hili Properties’ portfolio value grows to €155 million, and its leasable area extends to just under 100,000 square metres. The portfolio now comprises seven grocery-anchored shopping centres across Riga; a private hospital in Bucharest, Romania; 12 properties housing restaurants in key commercial districts in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Romania; three dedicated business blocks and office space in Sliema, Marsa and Floriana in Malta, and a major industrial plant in Lithuania. Its tenants include Premier Restaurants, Rimi, Norwegian newsagent/convenience chain Narvesen, and industrial materials manufacturer Rehau Group.

Atlas Insurance donates €11,500 to SOS Malta in support of Ukraine and its citizens

Atlas Insurance has spearheaded and participated in a series of initiatives to support Ukrainians in cities under siege during this devastating time of war, and to help its staff members deliver their services to clients in a time of uncertainty.

A €11,500 donation, comprised of contributions from Atlas and its employees, was made to SOS Malta, whose volunteers are providing aid in Romania, Ukraine and Malta respectively. Money collected for this initiative will support SOS Malta continue its valuable work. Locally, SOS Malta volunteers are supporting displaced families arriving in Malta find host families, providing them with SIM cards and public transport passes, and collaborating with Refugee Agencies with experience in this area, amongst others. TeamAtlas members were also encouraged to volunteer with SOS Malta through Atlas’ programme of volunteering leave.

“We are proud of TeamAtlas for once again stepping up and showing kindness and generosity in turbulent times, not only to Ukrainians but to Maltese organizations already lending a helping hand to the war-torn nation”, said Jackie Attard Montalto, Chief HR Officer at Atlas.

TeamAtlas participated in a session on managing stress and anxiety in response to political uncertainty on 16 March, which was held by ICAS International, a leading provider of health and wellbeing services and critical incident support. The aim of this session was to equip staff members with the tools they need to look after their own mental wellbeing during this time, and to still be able to help clients who might need extra support and care.

On 29 March, Atlas Healthcare hosted the Leadership tools for supporting teams during times of crisis & conflict webinar to help HR, managers and team leaders gain the necessary skills to properly manage employees operating in a state of crisis or heightened anxiety. The webinar was delivered by Kim Mussman, an ICAS International Masters Level Clinician and was also open to members of the Malta Chamber of Commerce and the general public. Atlas is currently spearheading the cross-sectoral Health and Wellness Committee within The Malta Chamber, which is chaired by Atlas Healthcare Managing Director Catherine Calleja.

To learn more about how you can support those impacted by the conflict in Ukraine, please visit

The Malta Chamber congratulates the new government and will continue to promote social dialogue

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry would like to congratulate Prime Minister Robert Abela and the newly appointed Cabinet and wishes them a successful term in government.

The Malta Chamber is committed to continue working in the areas that improve the business landscape, particularly in energy and sustainability, digitalisation, good governance, public procurement, tourism, vocational education and employment. Many of these initiatives taken by The Malta Chamber are intended to facilitate investment, providing a level playing field, improving competitiveness and the ease of doing business. All these will be crucial for our economy because they will be able to perform in challenging times. The Malta Chamber is pleased to note that a number of Ministers with whom it worked during the past legislature have been reconfirmed. The Malta Chamber is committed to continue building on what has been initiated. Additionally, The Malta Chamber looks forward to collaborate with the new Foreign Minister on trade and internationalisation, and to work with other Ministers who have been assigned new portfolios that are of pertinence to business, notably transport, planning, justice and social dialogue.

Similarly, The Malta Chamber is looking forward to the unveiling of the Shadow Cabinet and to work with the respective members of the Opposition.

The Malta Chamber would like to thank all candidates and party officials who contributed to this electoral process, and congratulates all candidates who will form part of the new parliament. The electoral result, particularly the significant increase in non-voters following a campaign full of promises, calls for careful consideration of what a substantial portion of the electorate really expects from our politicians. The Malta Chamber will continue to do its part in promoting social dialogue and contributing to the country’s policy development.