15 August 2001

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Libyan takeover will mean 550 jobs at Price Club

The final touches to the agreement between the Price Club owners and Lafico were in motion yesterday.

The Price Club supermarket chain's successful bid to sell to the Libyan foreign company LAFICO, will mean that 550 people will be back at work as early as the first week of September.

Although 400 workers lost their job some weeks ago, there were 550 people working with the Price Club Chain approximately a year ago. The company had started to downsize because of money problems.

Lafico has apparently finalized its deal with the Price Club former owners.

The General Retailers and Traders Union (GRTU) has expressed its fierce opposition to the sale of Price Club foreigners even though LAFICO is a well-known company in Malta and the Corinthia Group of Companies forms part of the company.

The renowned company FIAT also has a small share in the company.

According to the GRTU, the Government is moving blindly and dangerously with regards to this issue.

The GRTU is stating that the wholesaling and retailing sector is not one which is in need of foreign investment.

The GRTU sees no reason why this policy should be changed just because one particular retailing group has let itself get into financial difficulties. The Union recalled how during Price Club’s rapid growth, traders suffered unduly because of what the GRTU called ‘unfair and unacceptable practices’.

The GRTU’s concerns have been echoed by Labour leader, Dr Alfred Sant who has condemned the sale of Price Club to Lafico.

Lafico has agreed to inject Lm1.5 million and Lm2.5 million in long awaited payments to creditors.

This falls well below the Lm8 million outstanding payments to various local producers and import companies.

But a spokesman for Price Club is confident that the Government will issue the necessary permits for the takeover to happen. Last month the government of Zambia sold Lusaka's Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Millennium Village which is still under construction to LAFICO. According to sources at the Ministry of Lands and Zambia Investment Centre, the Millennium Village has been sold to Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company (LAFICO) for US $8.4 million.

LAFICO, is also taking part in the reconstruction of Miensk's MAZ, in Belarus which produces trucks and buses. It was also agreed to create a common investment bank, based in Miensk, using 50 per cent Libyan capital.

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