Izola Bank launches €14,000,000 bond issue

Izola Bank p.l.c (the “Bank”) has announced a €14 million unsecured subordinated bond issue with an annual interest rate of 5% and a nominal value of €100 per Bond at par (the “Bonds”). The bond issue will mature on 15 September 2032 but may be redeemable at the Bank’s discretion on any date falling between 15 September 2027 and 14 September 2032. The Bonds will form part of the Bank’s capital and as such, Izola Bank will use the bond issue funds to help sustain its growth strategy.

Existing bondholders of the 4.5% Izola Bank p.l.c. Unsecured Bonds 2025 (ISIN MT0000531211) are being invited to subscribe to the Bonds in exchange for their existing holding at a 2.5% premium over par value (that is, at €102.50). The bond issue will open for subscriptions by existing bondholders and the general public (through an Intermediaries’ Offer) between 1 August 2022 and 12:00 hours on 7 September 2022, but may close earlier in the event of over-subscription. The Bonds are expected to be admitted to the official list of the Malta Stock on 23 September 2022, with trading commencing thereafter-.

Izola Bank p.l.c. is wholly owned by the Van Marcke Group, a family-owned company which is fast approaching its centennial of operations. Though the majority of its business activities are concentrated in Belgium, the Group operates over 140 stores in Belgium, France, the USA, Switzerland and Luxembourg. The Van Marcke Group is the largest plumbing and heating wholesaler in Belgium and a manufacturer and retailer of sanitary ware, bathroom furniture and related products. It is also involved in packaging and transportation. Van Marcke is a brand dedicated to providing a better quality of life through environmentally friendly and sustainable products. The Group’s new €75 million distribution centre in Kortrijk, Belgium is completely carbon neutral.

Izola Bank p.l.c. obtained its banking licence in 1994 and since inception has been heavily involved in the Van Marcke Group’s treasury operations, particularly in the areas of cash and liquidity management, as well as lending and factoring. The Bank provides tailor-made financing solutions for SMEs and large companies in Malta and Belgium mainly through commercial credit facilities and factoring. The Bank also offers retail customers online savings and term deposits as well as mortgage lending.

Andrew Mifsud, CEO and Executive Director of Izola Bank plc explains, ‘This bond issue will enable the Bank to continue its growth path, providing excellent digital banking services with a human touch. Our team are strong advocates for putting our customers at the centre of everything we do. Our impeccable service level, corroborated by our customers’ experience, our ongoing investment in technology and our diversified portfolio are helping the Bank grow from strength-to-strength. Our recent and ongoing projects include the launch of retail mortgage lending in the local market earlier this year and the upcoming launch of our new factoring solution, which is provided by HPD Lendscape, one of the world’s leading factoring software providers. We will also shortly be relaunching Izola Saver, our online savings platform to the local and international market, with an improved customer experience and more features to help our customers save money around their lifestyle.’
The sponsors for this issue are MZ Investment Services Ltd and Rizzo, Farrugia & Co (Stockbrokers) Ltd. Legal counsel has been provided by Camilleri Preziosi.

More information about the bond issue and the list of authorised intermediaries are included in the Prospectus dated 22 July 2022 which is available online.


Issued by Izola Bank p.l.c. (C 16343) (the “Bank”) with its registered address at 53-58 East Street, Valletta, which is licensed to undertake Banking Activities under the Banking Act, Cap 371. The approval of the Prospectus by the MFSA should not be understood as an endorsement of the Bonds offered and admitted to trading on the Official List of the MSE. Prospective Investors wishing to acquire Bonds of the Bank should read the Prospectus before making any investment decision, to fully understand the potential risks and rewards associated with investing in the Bonds. A copy of the Prospectus is available from www.izolabank.com and other Authorised Financial Intermediaries listed therein.

The Bonds constitute subordinated and unsecured obligations of the Bank and are classified as complex financial instruments. The Bank is subject to the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) as transposed in local laws and therefore, Prospective Investors should consider the risk that, in the event that the Bank becomes subject to resolution, the Bonds including any accrued interest, may be written down or converted into equity, and a broad range of other resolution actions may be taken by the Resolution Committee in respect of the Bank. Therefore, investors may lose part or all their investment.

The value of the investment can down as well as up and past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance. An investment in the Bonds of the Bank may not be suitable for all Investors and Prospective Investors are to consult their Financial Advisor so as to ensure the suitability of investing in the Bonds. Prospective Investors are only able to acquire the Bonds provided that the Investment in the Bonds is deemed to be suitable.

This advertisement has been approved by M.Z. Investment Services Limited (C23936) of 61, M.Z. House, St. Rita Street, Rabat Malta RBT 1523 and Rizzo, Farrugia & Co. (Stockbrokers) Ltd (C 13102) of Airways House, Fourth Floor, High Street, Sliema SLM 1551) (the “Co-Sponsors”) on behalf of the Bank. The Co-Sponsors are licensed to undertake investment services in Malta by the MFSA under the Investment Services Act, Cap 370.

The future lies with technology

Chris Vassallo Cesareo, The Malta Chamber Deputy President, delivered a speech during the Tech.mt Annual General Meeting in which he iterated the importance of tech for both present and future generations.

“The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry strongly believes in the role of Tech.mt. Let me refresh your memories, it was The Malta Chamber in 2014 under the helm of President David Curmi that started lobbying for such an entity to be set up. Five years later, Tech.mt was finally set up and the main scope was to assist tech companies based in Malta in exporting their tech systems and solutions beyond Malta’s shores. Three years later, here we are, in The Malta Chamber’s main hall reconfirming the important role that Tech.mt has in helping the tech industry to grow,” said the Deputy President.

He continued by noting that The Malta Chamber of Commerce strongly believes that tech is key to the present and the future. “It is for this reason that we decided to partner with Government and in 2019 officially launch this s public-private partnership to promote and support investment in tech – the internationalisation of our tech industry and the uptake of digital technologies across all sectors of our economy,” he said.

“The digital economy is growing at a fast pace. The future lies with technology. Nowadays technology drives competitiveness, productivity, and innovation. The creative side of business is becoming increasingly more of a differentiator. The more sophisticated markets and technologies become, the more innovation driven we need to be. Markets are hungry for new ideas, for creative talent, for products and services that inspire and expand possibilities,” noted Chris Vassallo Cesareo.

He continued by saying that “Malta is well positioned to be an incubator for innovative tech ideas. The small size of the market can be an advantage in this sense. Another advantage is the high degree of diversification of our relatively small economy. This provides endless possibilities for product and service development. Whether it’s tourism, financial services, manufacturing, transportation, media, telecoms, energy, health – the Maltese economy provides ample opportunities for highly diverse economic activities, all of which can be enhanced through creative digital solutions.”

The Deputy President concluded by saying that “Tech.mt has 2 strong founders and partners – Government and The Malta Chamber. Tech.mt will continue to grow and benefit the tech community if the alliance is promoted for what it is – a strong public private partnership between Government and The Malta Chamber to help our tech industry to internationalize. The Malta Chamber has a proven track record of over 170 years representing commerce, enterprise and industry – this is a strength which supports . finding and linking business partners with whom our businesses can build synergies and continue to flourish. The Malta Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Management together with the Chamber representatives sitting on the Tech.MT Board (our CEO Dr Marthese Portelli, Francois Grech, Gordon Micallef and Roland Scerri) will continue giving their input and will work towards a forward vision for the tech industry.…..YES we can do this together!”

Tech.mt, which was established in 2019 as a Public-Private Partnership between The Malta Chamber and the Maltese Government, aims at promoting Malta as a hub for innovation and technology.

The Malta Chamber And Atlas Insurance Renew Bronze Partnership Agreement

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and Atlas Insurance have renewed their bronze collaboration agreement with the aim of supporting the Health and Wellness Committee.

Ahead of the signing, Marisa Xuereb, The Malta Chamber President, emphasised how employees are essential for businesses to be successful. Hence, giving importance to mental health is vital and should be pursued to achieve success milestones. “Ensuring that employees are mentally well is beneficial for both the company and for workers, both at work and in all other aspects of their lives,” said President Xuereb.

“A shift in attitudes by both employees and employers about mental disorders is needed to address the importance of mental health in the workplace. This collaboration will continue solidifying the relationship between the two entities in bringing value to both Chamber members and the business community at large through various workshops and events with the aim of prioritising health and wellness at the place of work,” noted Xuereb.

“At Atlas, we believe that for a truly sustainable future for our Maltese society, we have a long way to go in facing several issues relating to health and safety in a number of sectors; mental health challenges in the workplace as well as gender and burden sharing. We hope to stimulate discussion and provide tools which will facilitate change for the better over the coming year in these areas with the Chamber,” said Catherine Calleja, Atlas Insurance Executive Director.

The agreement was signed by President Marisa Xuereb and Deputy President Chris Vassallo Cesareo on behalf of The Malta Chamber and Mr Matthew von Brockdorff and Ms Catherine Calleja for Atlas Insurance PCC Ltd.

Environmental impact of waste management – revision of EU waste framework

The European Commission invites members of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry to contribute to the revision of EU Waste Framework Directive.

The objectives of the revision are to limit waste generation, increase re-use, and increase cost-efficient preparing for re-use and quality recycling, including for waste oils and textiles. The revision will explore opportunities for simplification to make legislation clearer and reduce burden on citizens and businesses.

As part of this initiative, the Commission is also seeking feedback on establishing food waste reduction targets. These targets would then be included in the revised Directive.
Those who are interested in this directive are invited to express their views on waste reduction and prevention, food waste reduction, separate collection systems, and regulatory and economic incentives.

For more information on the revision of the EU Waste Framework Directive and the establishment of food waste reduction targets please refer to this link.

Kindly fill in this survey and for more information contact Malta Business Bureau policy team on infobrussels@mbb.org.mt 

Real Estate Transparency Index

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry provided its feedback to PWC Malta in relation to a study carried out by them on real estate transparency in Malta.

The Malta Chamber believes that transparency in business is crucial because it creates trust and a positive reputation. Similarly, the PWC Malta report outlines how transparency in the real estate market ensures consistency and certainty. One of the things highlighted in the report focuses on the need for better enforcement of regulations. The survey also highlights the underlying demand drivers for the industry and the current status of the real estate’s environmental sustainability credentials.

During the consultation period, The Malta Chamber outlined its various proposals on how the real estate industry can grow in a sustainable manner.

This full report can be accessed from this link.

MBR advises companies to provide adequate electronic mail address

As communicated through a Notice published on 28 January 2022 – https://mbr.mt/2022/01/28/legislative-amendments-introduced-by-act-lx-of-2021/ – Act LX of 2021 introduces the requirement for companies to indicate their electronic mail address in the memorandum, in terms of article 69(1)(d) of the Companies Act.

The scope behind this amendment is two-fold. Firstly, electronic communication serves to increase efficiency through timely communication by reducing the reliance on paper format communication to a company’s registered office. Certain correspondence may well be served to a company electronically and is many times more effective in reaching the concerned company officers. Secondly, the Malta Business Registry continuously strives as a central national registry and supervisory authority, toward implementing sustainable governance measures that correspond to corporate sustainability goals reflecting national and European Union initiatives in the sector. Limiting the amount of physical paper-format correspondence and shifting the emphasis to electronic means, will undoubtedly serve to reduce the use of paper and associated materials. Such measure is only one of those which will be undertaken as part of the responsibility in implementing measures synced with the European Green Deal.

Companies are hereby being notified that an adequate electronic mail address that is accessible to all the company officers, is to be provided to the Malta Business Registry by 30 September 2022. It is advisable that this is done by filing an updated memorandum and articles of association. In instances whereby this is not possible, one may address a formal letter to the Registrar, sent to the attention of Ms Stefania Baldacchino.

A Focus on Real Estate Transparency in Malta

Transparency within the real estate market leads to increases in business efficiency, competitiveness, flexibility and investor confidence. It also facilitates the achievement of the country’s macroeconomic goals, through increased productivity, continued foreign direct investment, as well as improved policy development and long-term real estate planning.

This transparency has become even more important in today’s business world, in light of the heightened uncertainty and rapid change characterising the economic environment, owing as well to the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical conflicts. This has led to shifts in how we live and work and periods of greater consumer uncertainty, rising inflation and interest rates, as well as issues in supply chain distribution.

Understanding the importance of these benefits, PwC Malta has embarked on a project, in conjunction with JLL and Archi+, to derive a real estate transparency index for Malta for the first time. Through their Global Real Estate Transparency Index (GRETI), published on a biennial basis, JLL have been mapping the evolution of real estate transparency across 93 other countries and territories since 1999. The JLL GRETI is based on a combination of quantitative market data and survey results. The Index scores property markets on a one to five transparency scale (ranging between Highly Transparent to Opaque, respectively) and acts as an essential guide for companies operating in foreign markets and a unique benchmark of real estate market transparency.

Over the past few months, PwC Malta led the compilation of survey results for Malta given that JLL do not have a presence locally, and done through consultations with key stakeholders within the public and private sector, including real estate investors, key developers, architects, lawyers, notaries, real estate agents, and property managers. The Index, based on JLL’s methodology, focuses on 14 topic areas, including direct property indices, availability of property data in connection with transactions, valuations, the use of real estate technology in construction and property management (among others), real estate tax, land use planning, professional standards of agents, green building regulations and sustainability.

Global Real Estate Transparency Index Components, 2022

Source: JLL and LaSalle 2022, Global Real Estate Transparency Index, 2022

Malta placed 62nd among 94 participant countries

Malta has been attributed a score of 3.64 in the Index, thereby falling within the Low Transparency category, along with countries such as Morocco, Egypt and Sri Lanka. While scoring well on fronts such as governance of listed vehicles, regulatory and legal aspects, as well as the transaction process, areas such as sustainability, technology and digitisation, and availability of data merit considerable improvement.

Source: JLL and LaSalle 2022, Global Real Estate Transparency Index, 2022; PwC Analysis

Ensuring that contracted data is collated, recorded, analysed, digitised and disclosed to the public could help improve Malta’s score in terms of availability of data and technology and digitisation. Aggregate time series of data including contracted rents, contracted property prices, vacancy rates, gross capitalisation rates, office physical occupancy rates, as well as the stock of properties by type and size, would prove beneficial for investors, Government and other stakeholders to readily assess the inherent value of their transactions. Publication of contracted data would also boost investor confidence. Furthermore, contracted information could be particularly beneficial for the preparation of market-based real estate valuations, thereby improving the credibility of such valuations.

The ongoing project which will result in the digitalisation of the lands register and the digitisation of records and processes within the Lands Authority is a step in the right direction in this regard. Having said this, from a technology standpoint, the proptech sector is still at its inception. Furthermore, technologies that could lead to improvements in the way properties and facilities are managed, or the manner in which real estate data is collated, cleaned and analysed, are currently not used or being used by very few industry participants, leading Malta to achieve a low score on this front.
Malta also lags behind on the Index in the field of sustainability. Sustainability is garnering increased attention and will continue to do so in the future. Investors may need to start justifying their real estate investments, particularly if these have an impact on their carbon footprint. Owing to increased regulation and stakeholder pressure, companies including those involved in real estate will need to start taking into consideration sustainability when reporting their performance in the near future, particularly in view of the Taxonomy Regulation and the proposed Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

Europe, and Malta, will not be able to meet their ambitious targets unless financial investments are directed toward sustainable projects and activities. Currently, Malta lacks a well-established energy benchmarking system. While there are minimum energy efficiency standards for new buildings, the same is not in place for existing properties. Moreover, there is no tracking of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions for real estate on a national level. This mirrors the lack of GHG Emissions Standards for both existing and new construction locally. Additionally, green building certification systems such as BREEAM and LEED are used by a number of market participants voluntarily, given that there is no requirement for the use of green building certification systems. The results of the sustainability stream are also impacted by the lack of green lease frameworks. Moreover, Malta lacks the use of a dominant or prominent health and wellness building certification system. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased awareness of personal and environmental hygiene, health, work-life balance, as well as social relations within the real estate field.

Malta’s score could improve a notch in the next round of the JLL GRETI

The results of this first Real Estate Transparency Index for Malta prioritise the initiatives Malta should address moving forward to increase transparency, focusing on digitalisation and publication of market data for increased market confidence and incentivising more sustainable practices in real estate to encourage uptake.

Our first national JLL GRETI score allows the setting of targets which Malta should aim to achieve over the next few years. Taking into consideration the current and upcoming initiatives which are currently being rolled out by the Government, and initiating actions in other areas of concern as highlighted, Malta could achieve a score lower than 3.5, allowing the country to climb up a notch within the transparency ladder and classify within the Semi-Transparent category. This shift could potentially happen by the next round of the JLL GRETI in 2024.

The gradual improvement of our transparency within the real estate sector will enhance the level of trust and will continue to ensure sustainability of the industry moving forward. To read the report, visit this link.

HSBC Malta signs Gold Partnership renewal with The Malta Chamber

HSBC Bank Malta has renewed its long-standing Gold Partnership Agreement with The Malta Chamber, reinforcing its commitment to support Maltese businesses. HSBC Malta’s Head of Commercial Banking Joyce Grech signed the agreement together with The Malta Chamber President Marisa Xuereb and Deputy President Chris Vassallo Cesareo.

Through this Gold Partnership, HSBC Malta will continue to back The Malta Chamber’s ongoing operations while creating unique joint events through which the bank makes its international expertise and business connections available to members. The two parties have also committed to organise a new series of virtual and physical seminars to assist companies in navigating the fast changing and challenging environment.

Joyce Grech, Head of Commercial Banking at HSBC Malta said: “This renewed partnership with the Chamber reflects HSBC Malta’s commitment to the local business community. The global expertise available to the bank has proved an invaluable resource for members during the pandemic and in navigating subsequent supply chain challenges. We are committed to ensuring that this expertise remains available to members in the months and years ahead as they prepare their businesses for future challenges including the decarbonistion of the economy.”

Marisa Xuereb, President of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, said: “The strategic alliance between HSBC Malta and The Malta Chamber has stood the test of time. Together, we have held a number of corporate events and educational webinars which have been of real benefit to our members. Moving forward we will continue to explore new opportunities designed to help Malta’s economy grow and evolve.”

Expression of Interest 2022-2023
Production of L-Intrapriża on TVMNews+

Reference: ‘L-Intrapriża’ EoI 2022
Issued by: The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry & Malta Enterprise
Issue Date: 18 July 2022
Closing Date: 5 August 2022

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and Malta Enterprise are issuing an EoI for the production of the programme L-Intrapriza which will be aired on TVMnews+ from October 2022 till June 2023.

This TV programme is a continuation of L-Intrapriza carried out in collaboration with Malta Enterprise in 2021-2022. The aim of the TV programme is to give more visibility to teenagers, parents, educators, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders to understand all the different career paths that exist in the industry. At the same time, the viewers will be able to watch how a product is made or how a service is delivered in the country.

EoI responses are to be sent via email on procurement@maltachamber.org.mt by not later than 5 August 2022. Submissions must clearly indicate the Reference of the EoI.