21– 27 March 2001

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Taking stock of the future

Address by Edward Fenech Adami, Prime minister, at the official inauguration of the Bank of Valletta stockbrokers Ltd – Floriana, 13 March, 2001

It is a great pleasure for me to officially inaugurate the new premises of BOV Stockbrokers Ltd. It is satisfying to see local banks taking up the opportunity and challenge presented by the legislation that my government has enacted to keep the country abreast of major economic and political changes, both domestic and international.

The setting up of BOV Stockbrokers Ltd. will not only benefit the BOV Group by transforming Bank of Valletta into a full financial services provider, but it will also increase the local investor's accessibility to financial markets, as well as extend local listings to international investors.

The world is now a place where the previous physical, social, political and economic boundaries are being dismantled and replaced with global integration.

Increasing sophistication in information and communication technology has facilitated the globalisation process in financial markets. Everywhere around us the deregulation of domestic banking and capital markets is opening up previously closed markets. As borrowers move to these new capital markets, banks are looking at developing new areas of activity. Deregulation is expanding the scope of their activities and the markets in which they operate.

Local banks have been quick to align their strategies with international trends, and are now concentrating to a greater degree on fee-earning business to counteract the decline in profitability in traditional business. Financial institutions are increasingly combining the traditional business of a commercial bank with investment banking, underwriting and brokerage skills.

Depositors are moving away from bank deposits as a satisfactory form of investment and are becoming more selective. The Malta Stock Exchange has itself proved to be a success story with a total turnover of one hundred and forty-nine million Liri during the year 2000. The past two years have seen a peak in the stock exchange and the consolidation of funds, shares and stocks.

This year will see new developments and more activity as a result of the privatisation process, as well as the issue of around thirty to fifty million Liri worth of new government stocks. Furthermore the Malta Stock Exchange is currently holding discussions with the London Stock Exchange for cross-listing initiatives. Prospects look good and the forthcoming privatisation exercise will make our country more competitive and provide huge stock exchange opportunities.

As I have stated on other occasions, my government aims to provide a robust legal and regulatory framework within which markets can work transparently and without distortions, to ease restrictions on economic activity, and to open up markets to competition from domestic sources, as well as foreign. Further to this we have embarked on a far-reaching privatisation programme that should channel significant foreign direct investment into the key areas of economic activity. This restructuring has been the driving force behind the real improvements in economic performance witnessed during the past decade, as it has become apparent that competition and private enterprise are the best motivators of efficiency.

No economic activity can be properly sustained unless it is run on professional and objective management concepts that ensure quality, efficiency and effectiveness.

I can safely say that local financial institutions have the inner strength and resolve to adequately face the challenges that will be brought about by their integration into the European Banking Industry.

BOV Group stands excitingly close to achieving its goals through its flexibility and innovative spirit. BOV Stockbrokers Ltd. will expand opportunities for local investors and local entrepreneurs. I would like to wish BOV Group every success in this new venture.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt