BOV holds its 50th Annual General Meeting

Bank of Valletta held its 50th Annual General Meeting during which, BOV Chairman Dr Gordon Cordina, and CEO Kenneth Farrugia, together with the Bank’s Directors, met with shareholders to present the BOV Group performance for 2023 and propose several resolutions for approval to the shareholders of the Bank, which included the final gross dividend of €0.1162 per share (representing a gross payment of €67.9 million), consisting of the interim dividend of €0.0462 per share (representing a gross payment of €27.0 million) already paid to shareholders on 6 December 2023 and the dividend proposed of €0.0700 per share (representing a gross payment of €40.9 million). All resolutions proposed for shareholders’ consideration were approved.

The Annual General Meeting also brought the directorship term of Kevin J. Borg and Elizabeth Camilleri to an end, after they chose not to seek re-appointment to the Board. This led to two vacant Non-Executive Director positions, where Dr Christian Bonnici West and Dr Jonathan Spiteri were appointed to the Board. Their appointment is subject to regulatory approval and will become effective from the date of approval.

Sustaining our commitment to our shareholders, our clients and Malta – Dr Gordon Cordina
Addressing shareholders during the meeting, Dr Cordina commented that “2023 was a very positive year for the Bank of Valletta Group, which registered healthy profits in a situation of positive interest rates. The Bank’s performance can be seen within the context of an economic scenario that, despite the headwinds of high interest rates, elevated inflation, and uncertainty, saw the Maltese economy continue to grow at a sustained pace”.

Dr Cordina commented on the Bank’s balance sheet, that exceeded €14 billion at the end of 2023. “The Bank’s balance sheet accounts for almost half the total assets of Malta’s core domestic banks. BOV’s market share for 2023 was slightly above 40% with respect to corporate loans and household deposits, and slightly less in the case of home loans. These statistics clearly highlight the systemic importance of BOV, and the crucial role that the Bank plays in sustaining the local economy.

The resumption of a dividend payment, supported by the safety offered by the Bank’s strong capitalisation and liquidity, was also a key accomplishment in 2023. The dividend payout in 2023 was one of the highest dividend distributions paid in recent years. This has been distributed after taking into consideration the Bank’s growth ambition and corresponding capital requirements, affordability, as well as regulatory and shareholder expectations. This structured approach is aimed to ensure the sustainability of dividend payouts in the future and supportive of our commitment to all our stakeholders, including our shareholders, clients, and the economy at large.”

50 Years Shaping Malta’s Economy – Kenneth Farrugia
During his address, CEO Kenneth Farrugia expressed his satisfaction on the remarkable performance registered by the Bank in 2023. “Bank of Valletta’s financial performance was undoubtedly one of the best experienced during its 50-year history, with strong income growth achieved across all core business lines. The increase in interest rates, the strength of our balance sheet, our robust risk management framework, and organic growth in core business lines, were all key enablers of the financial results registered during the year.”

Kenneth Farrugia also referred to the strategic objectives set by the Bank for the period 2024-2026 and commented that several foundational changes are in place to strengthen the Bank’s business and operational model, supporting the key strategic thrusts over the next three years.

One of the areas where BOV has been taking a more prominent role is in the area of ESG, with Kenneth Farrugia citing the Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, improvement in operational efficiencies, as well growth in green commercial and personal lending. “I am pleased to note the leadership position that the Bank is taking on ESG matters. In 2023 we saw 33% of the total facilities sanctioned in loans with green credentials. We have introduced incentives in our credit pricing model to support our customers in their transition to ‘Green’, while on the investment side we have seen 9.3% of total purchased instruments carried out in Sustainable Treasury Investments. Apart from our focus on ESG we continue to focus on our customers. The digitalisation of our operational model remains a high priority and various initiatives are in progress to ensure that across our physical, digital, and hybrid channels, we deliver the service experience expected by our customers.”

In his closing remarks he expressed gratitude to the Bank’s shareholders, employees, valued customers and fellow Board and Executive Committee Members for their commitment, passion, enthusiasm, and unwavering support, as the Bank continues its trajectory towards continued growth and success.

Composition of the new Board
With Mr Kevin J Borg and Ms Elizabeth Camilleri not seeking their re-appointments to the Board of Directors, and with the nomination of Dr Christian Bonnici West and Dr Jonathan Spiteri to occupy the role of Non-Executive Directors, the new Board will be composed as follows:


Subject to regulatory approval and the appointment date shall be deemed to be the date of receipt of regulatory approval.

BOV enhancing close business ties between Malta and France

‘Malta economic performance is standing out when compared to European counterparts and as the major financial institution in the country, we strongly believe in our critical role in continuing to shape and develop the economy and facilitate international business’. This was stated by Kenneth Farrugia, CEO at Bank of Valletta during ‘Malta – France – Aligning Business, Securing the Future’, an event organised by the Maltese French Chamber of Commerce addressed by H.E. Agnès Von Der Mühll, Ambassador of France to Malta and Mr Joseph Bugeja, President of the Malta French Chamber.

‘Bank of Valletta, as Malta’s largest Bank is pleased to sustain its support to the Maltese French Chamber of Commerce aiming to facilitate and enhance trade between the two countries which is currently on a positive growth trajectory. This year is an important one for the Bank as we celebrate our 50th year of operation. Over this period, the Bank has played a significant role in shaping our economy where we continue to support our personal customers as they go through the various stages of their lifecycle, as well as business customers in taking forward their projects both in Malta and outside of Malta. The Bank also continues to play a leadership role in attracting and supporting foreign direct investment towards our shores working closely with the Malta Enterpise’ said the BOV CEO. ‘Foreign Direct Investment is of the utmost importance as it significantly contributes to our economic growth and development this leading to social prosperity. The CEO went on to say that “within the context of these developments, the Bank is also attributing significant importance to the role and importance of ESG in the process and introducing various incentives that are contributing to the greenification of our economy.”

Bank of Valletta can proudly say that it has been partnering with the Maltese French Chamber for a number of years now, and it is one of the most active chambers on our island. At BOV, we commit ourselves to provide timely support to all businesses to ensure that we help the economic actors to continue contributing to our economic growth,’ continued Mr Farrugia. ‘Our forward-looking strategy is centered around those areas where we can create and generate economic and commercial value with a strong focus around Environment, Social and Governance (ESG), which now has an overarching role across the Bank’s business and operational arenas.’

BOV’s commitment to improving our customers’ financial wellbeing and our active involvement in the community are all contributing to sustaining our reputation as the Bank of Choice in Malta.

Business session on labour & skills shortages highlights importance of adequate traineeships and labour mobility

This week, the Malta Business Bureau (MBB) held an informational webinar in which it presented and discussed with Maltese businesses numerous European initiatives to tackle the labour and skills shortage crisis.

These aim to establish and refine the EU’s holistic approach to mobilise and upskill the workforce, particularly for sectors and job categories experiencing the most severe shortages, including healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality, and information technologies. The initiatives also aim to equip the future workforce with the necessary skills required for the twin transition, including by ensuring better traineeship standards, intra-EU mobility, and legal migration from third countries (the latter through a dedicated EU Talent Pool recruitment tool).

Kicking-off the event, MBB President Alison Mizzi highlighted the importance of the EU developing a resilient and future-proof labour market, which requires constant re-skilling and up-skilling cycles. Ms. Mizzi stated, “The EU must seek to bridge the gap between education and employment by ensuring fair, transparent, and high-quality traineeships that provide young people with essential skills and experience.” She also pointed out that the EU needs to look towards mobilising inactive groups, such as senior workers that require re-skilling, and third country nationals searching for employment opportunities in Europe that can fulfil roles that are experiencing shortages.

Lawrence Zammit, MISCO Founding Partner & Director, agreed that Member States need to strike a balance between economic resilience and social responsibility. “It is key to activate the under-represented people within the labour market, (to reach the EU objectives of an employment rate of at least 78%, and to have at least 60% of adults attending training courses every year by 2030),” he added.

Fabianne Ruggier, RSM Malta Director, advocated for the strategic utilization of the ESF+ to encourage employers across the EU to enhance training opportunities for their workforce. She underscored the importance of boosting intra-EU labour mobility, and also the need to continue streamlining legal migration from third countries to address shortages in specific job categories. On the EU Talent Pool, Ms Ruggier stated that, “the EU must seek long-term collaboration with recruitment agencies to promote the platform while ensuring that all involved intermediaries are reputable and compliant with the law to protect third country applicants”.

The session was moderated by MBB Policy Advisor Michele Agius, who also presented the key components of the three EU policy initiatives.

The Malta Business Bureau is the EU business advisory of The Malta Chamber and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. It is also a partner of the Enterprise Europe Network.

The second edition of PwC Malta’s Tech Week leaves a lasting impression on AI & Trust

Earlier this month, PwC Malta held its second edition of Tech Week comprising a series of
technology-related events aimed at shedding light on the transformative power of Artificial Intelligence
(AI) and the critical role of trust in this rapidly evolving landscape.

This year’s Tech Week opened with the Intelligent Digital Conference, held at the Hilton on 10 May.
This gathering united C-suite executives and industry leaders to consider the profound impact of AI on
industries and the future of organisations. The conference featured a notable lineup of speakers and
panellists, including leading local business leaders, technology alliance partners, and PwC subject
matter experts from its local office and EMEA network.

Michel Ganado, PwC Malta’s Digital Services Leader, emphasised the importance of understanding the
transformative power of AI in business during his introduction speech. He stated, ”As AI continues to
grow exponentially, business organisations are increasingly relying on data analytics and large data
warehouses to make more timely and informed decisions. The move towards cloud technologies has
also facilitated further this transition. In today’s digital age, data has indeed become the new gold. This
conference and other events being held over the next few days as part of Tech Week 2024, bring to the
fore our firm’s continued investment into the digital space.”

The PwC Digital Services mini expo at the Intelligent Digital Conference also featured booths
showcasing several solutions related to Digital Strategy and Transformation, Business Solutions, Cyber
Security and Privacy, IT managed services & networking, as well as new areas dealing with the creation
of custom digital assets aimed at addressing specific niche areas. The exhibition also featured solutions
from PwC Malta’s technology alliance partners such as Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, Hewlett Packard
Enterprise and Acronis as well as hosted a designated space for The Malta College of Arts, Science &
Technology (MCAST), who brought along ‘Reachy’ the semi-humanoid robot.

The continuation of Tech Week featured a joint event with The Malta Chamber of Commerce,
Enterprise and Industry, titled Navigating the Future: Trust in the Digital Age. The event
included two brief presentations followed by a panel discussion on the importance of Operational
Resiliency in the local market. The discussion addressed aspects relevant to both regulated and
non-regulated Maltese businesses, highlighting how organisations can derive long-term sustained
value by becoming operationally resilient.

In addition, PwC Malta hosted a LinkedIn Live session on May 15th, which furthered the discussion on
AI and Trust and delved deeper into strategies for thriving in an age of continuous technology
reinvention. This dynamic session included a brief summary of the topics discussed during the
Intelligent Digital Conference and the key points addressed in the panel discussions, and is still
available on the firm’s LinkedIn and YouTube channels. The Tech Week concluded on 16 May with an
exclusive event for firm Alumni.

PwC’s Digital Services Partner, Andrew Schembri, stated that, “the consistent advancements of
Artificial Intelligence have been revolutionising the business world. That is why we believe it is crucial
to consistently shed light on the topic while providing the necessary support for organisations to
maximise on the benefits of AI. This while keeping their businesses, employees and clients secure. We
hope that this Tech Week provided the right insights for the business community to look forward to
and assess how AI technology can be used as an enabler for their strategy and transformation.”

BOV leads the discussion in trade finance

Unlocking Liquidity & Mitigating Risks

Bank of Valletta successfully hosted a comprehensive Trade Finance Seminar earlier this month at Giardini Lambrosa in Rabat. This event was designed to provide local businesses and entrepreneurs with essential knowledge and tools to navigate the complexities of international trade. The seminar was led by Joseph Rodgers who heads the Bank’s Trade Finance arm. Among the key topics covered, there were the benefits of trade finance, incoterms, methods of payment, and pre- and post-shipping financing.

Unlocking the Benefits of Trade Finance

The seminar kicked off with a detailed presentation on the various benefits of trade finance. Attendees learned how these financial instruments can help mitigate risks, improve cash flow, and offer security for both importers and exporters, as well as manufacturers. Mr Rodgers showcased the Bank’s products, illustrating how they facilitate smoother and more efficient international transactions. Joseph Rodgers highlighted the team’s customised advisory services and customer-focused approach. “With years of experience in facilitating international trade transactions, the Bank has nurtured a team of seasoned professionals who understand the intricacies of global markets. This wealth of knowledge allows us to offer tailored solutions that address the specific needs of businesses at every stage of their trade cycle.”

Selecting the Right Incoterm

Understanding International Commercial Terms (Incoterms) is crucial for any business engaged in global trade. The seminar provided an extensive overview of these terms, explaining the obligations of the buyers and the sellers, the shifting of risk from seller to buyer (where and when the seller ‘delivers’) and which and who bears the costs involved. This session aimed to reduced disputes and ensure clarity in international trade agreements, a vital aspect for any successful business relationship.

Navigating Methods of Payment

Various methods of payment, such as Documentary Credits (DCs), Documentary Collections, Advance Payments, and Open Account transactions, were explained in detail.  The session highlighted the advantages and potential risks of each method, enabling businesses to make informed decisions tailored to their specific needs.

Exploring Pre- and Post-Shipping Financing Options

The seminar also covered financing options available both before and after the shipment of goods. Trade financing solutions such as back-to-back documentary credits, Collateral Management Agreement (CMA), Stock Monitoring Agreement (SMA), Security by Title Transfer Agreement (STTA), bill of lading financing, invoice discounting, factoring and reverse factoring were discussed. International experiences were also shared with attendees to elaborate on the importance of such trade financing. These options are designed to provide liquidity and support business growth, ensuring that companies have the necessary funds at every stage of the trade process.

Supporting Local Businesses

“We are committed to supporting our customers’ international business ventures by providing the necessary knowledge and financial tools to help them navigate this often complex but crucial part of their business”, explained Kenneth Farrugia, the Bank’s CEO during his brief intervention.  “Understanding the intricacies of trade finance is crucial for mitigating risks and maximising opportunities, and this is an area where we can really offer our support. At the heart of our success in trade finance is our dedication to building strong, long-term relationships with customers. We maintain open lines of communication and prioritise client needs. Our professional experts understand the intricacies of the global markets and are therefore able to offer tailored solutions that address the specific needs of the individual customer.”

The seminar concluded with an interactive Q&A session, where attendees could address specific concerns and gain personalised insights. Feedback from participants was positive, with many praising the practical approach and valuable information shared. Businesses and entrepreneurs wishing to discuss trade finance solutions or other financing requirements are encouraged to reach out to the Bank on 2275 1122 or Alternatively, they may use the Bank’s Online Booking system on

Commercial Courier 2024 Spring Issue

New BNF Bank branch opens at campus hub

BNF Bank has opened a new branch at Campus Hub, to offer the community of students, faculty and administrative staff as well as medical staff and hospital visitors a physical touchpoint and access to the Bank’s wide range of financial solutions across customers’ lifecycles.

This endeavour reflects the Bank’s commitment to continue strengthening its customer service, acknowledging that personal, face-to-face relationships are still strong in Malta, and that the Bank’s ongoing digital transformation process and vision for advanced technological solutions should not exclude personal customer-centric relationships.

The new branch, boasting a fresh and modern look-and-feel, will offer personal and business clients highly tailored products and services, as well as products and workshops aimed at fostering financial wellness particularly among students.

BNF Bank’s Chief Commercial Officer, George Debono said ‘’The launch of our new branch at Campus Hub reflects the Bank’s vision of complementing its progressive digital infrastructure with increased accessibility for face-to-face interactions in a welcoming environment with our professional staff. The location allows us to shift the focus from the traditional catchment area usually associated with a retail branch, to a target audience comprising of students, professionals, individuals and families visiting the University, Mater Dei, Campus Hub’s retail outlets, or simply passing by the main roads neighbouring the branch.”

Head of BNF Retail Banking Department, Rueben Bezzina said “We are thrilled to bring our expertise and personalised services to Campus Hub, empowering individuals with the tools they need to achieve their financial goals. Our team looks forward to serving all customers, old and new, from our brand new location.”

To view all of BNF’s branch locations, click here.

Only 36% of local family businesses base their decisions on research and data analysis

New Family Business Grant scheme announced – applications to be accepted as from the 1st of June 2024

36% of family businesses across Malta base their decisions on research and data analysis while the rest rely on internal discussions for their decision-making processes. This was part of a survey conducted amongst local family businesses. The findings of this survey were presented during a conference organised by the Family Business Committee within The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, EMCS and the Family Business Office in Malta.

In his opening address, Chris Vassallo Cesareo, The Malta Chamber President, urged family businesses to recognise the value of robust governance structures. “By doing so, family businesses not only secure their future but also contribute positively to the broader economic landscape. Let us work together to ensure that good governance becomes the standard practice, driving sustainable growth and success for family businesses across Malta,” stressed The Malta Chamber President.

During the same conference, Family Business Office Regulator, Dr Jospeh Gerada, together with Malta Enterprise Head of Outreach, Alexander Vella, announced the Family Business Grant scheme which will become available as from the 1st of June 2024 and which aims to provide part financing of up to advisory and mediation services required by Family Businesses towards facilitation and planning of succession. The maximum support that can be awarded under the scheme is capped at €20,000 per Family Business in any rolling three (3) year period.

Silvan Mifsud, Chairperson of The Malta Chamber Family Business Committee, presented the insightful findings from the survey that was conducted earlier this year. “It is extremely clear that family businesses that invest in having better corporate governance, manage to be better at planning both from a strategic and succession perspective, manage to take better decisions and also setup the needed policies to guide the business appropriately,” he said.

Dr Marthese Portelli, CEO of The Malta Chamber said that, “Family business is vital for the country’s economic success, yet they face a number of challenges. Family businesses need to be agile enough to navigate the ever changing business landscape which we are seeing in terms of the local and international economic climate whilst seeking to remain competitive by increasing their efficiency, efficacy and productivity. The Malta Chamber will remain at the forefront in helping family businesses strengthen their governance structures, introduce agility in adapting to today’s changing world, embrace strategic planning as well as improve on their decision-making process by making better use of data and research.”

The event also featured a panel discussion made up of industry leaders and stakeholders. It was moderated by Rachel Bondi Attard, Head – Media and Communications Strategist at The Malta Chamber, and was made up of:

• Dr Joseph Gerada, Regulator, Family Business Office Malta
• Marco Galea, Managing Director, Oxford House
• George Debono, CCO, BNF Bank plc
• Brian Ferris, Managing Director, Scope
• Joseph Zammit, Director, Neriku Catering
• Alexander Vella, Head of Outreach (Business Development Unit), Malta Enterprise

The panel speakers highlighted the importance of keeping an open dialogue and invest time working on your business, whether in governance or digital improvements. Furthermore, engaging with the business community is crucial, as family businesses focusing on these aspects are seeing success.

Kurt Muscat, Assistant Manager at EMCS, presented a detailed economic analysis on several factors related to family businesses. “It is evident that economic conditions are changing, stressing business profits. The economic analysis highlights the negative impact on businesses when operating in a tight labour market,” he emphasised.

The event was supported by the Family Business Office Malta, BNF Bank plc, Oxford House, Malta Enterprise, Neriku Catering and Scope Solutions.

The green transition in the next EU term


The last EU legislature was characterised by Europe’s commitment to the green transition and climate change mitigation. This has been guided by the European Green Deal’s priorities, covering sectors like energy, transport, industry, and buildings, with the goal of making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

Much importance has been placed on cleaner energy sources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Proposals under the Fit For 55 package contributed towards these goals by mandating increased renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable fuels, and building renovations. Most proposals within the package have been adopted as law, aside from the revision of the Energy Tax Directive which includes, among others, controversial issues such as phasing out tax exemptions on maritime and aviation fuels, which is still under debate.

In the last two years, the European Commission has also renewed its efforts on waste reduction and broadening the circular economy. Measures include reducing single-use plastics and packaging waste, improving product eco-design, and strengthening waste management processes. The EU’s sustainability agenda in the next EU term shall remain crucial and must be supported. Climate change is a pressing global challenge which poses an existential threat, with a direct impact on Malta and Maltese businesses.

Aside from the obvious environmental benefits, investing in sustainability can be beneficial for businesses by reducing their bottom line through efficiency improvements, and the potential to grow into new markets. It opens opportunities for innovation and growth, such as in net-zero technologies which are expected to increase in demand as member states strive to meet ambitious climate targets. Consumer behaviour is likewise changing towards favouring more sustainable products and transparency. Businesses offering sustainable goods and services will likely succeed in the long run.

While the benefits of sustainability are clear, there are important challenges which businesses will face in this transition. Costs are always a primary concern, as businesses must upgrade products or infrastructure to meet stricter requirements. This is particularly challenging for SMEs with limited resources and lack of inhouse expertise.

There are various funding schemes which Maltese businesses can access to support their investments, such as those offered by Malta Enterprise. The Maltese government and EU policymakers should constantly review such schemes to ensure they are sufficiently attractive for businesses. This includes addressing persistent limitations posed by state aid rules on what type of support can be provided and to which level.

Balancing sustainability with economic competitiveness will appear as another crucial aspect going forward. Europe’s leading role is commendable, but acting alone risks degrading competitiveness against countries with less stringent environmental standards. This highlights the key role played by climate diplomacy to find common solutions for the global challenge of climate change.

New legislation should also consider their geopolitical and economic context. Economic shocks from the Covid-19 pandemic, and the subsequent wars in Ukraine and in the Middle East have raised input and transportation prices. Policymakers would be wise to avoid worsening this through excessive compliance costs which affect business viability.

Such an approach should undoubtedly involve assessing the wider economic implications of EU proposals beyond their stated aims. During the last years, the reality of island-states such as Malta has been totally overlooked by EU legislation, increasing costs, and negatively impacting our competitiveness.
This is clearly seen in legislation such as the revised Emission Trading System, which poses a clear risk of carbon leakage and a potential loss of direct connectivity to global hubs for EU islands. This naturally has a spillover effect not just on the Maltese maritime industry, but also all other industries which are dependent on it, such as manufacturing.

Ensuring competitiveness likewise involves avoiding overregulation which stifles business innovation and introduces great administrative costs. Policymakers have a key role to ensure that regulatory burdens are kept to a minimum, by constantly reviewing existing policies and refining new proposals.
On the global front, the time is now ripe for the EU to fully commit towards its pursuit of open strategic autonomy to be able to act independently, regardless of international disturbances. This involves strengthening the EU’s economic resilience by reducing dependency on unreliable third countries, particularly in critical sectors such as technology.

This strategy, however, should not lead to isolation or protectionism. Rather, it is about ensuring member states’ ability to meet ambitious targets being set at the EU level while cooperating with diverse and dependable global partners.

As the web of environmental policy becomes increasingly complex, in the coming years policymakers and legislators must keep in mind the impact on business’s daily operations during their negotiations and legislations adopted at EU level.

For more information, please view a publication issued by the Malta Business Bureau, focusing on the Maltese business priorities for the next EU legislature. The full publication can be viewed on

Gabriel Cassar is Manager – EU Policy (Sustainability) at the Malta Business Bureau. The MBB is the EU advisory organisation of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. The MBB is also a partner of the Enterprise Europe Network

This article was first published on The Malta Business Weekly.