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LAFICO deal still being polished up

By Ray Abdilla

The Directors of Price Club together with their Libyan counterparts of LAFICO are still polishing things up and it is expected that there will be a breakthrough either this week or the next so there would be a smooth take-over

When asked on why it is taking such a long time for the deal to materialise, a Price Club spokesman told The Malta Financial & Business Times that Libyan companies take longer than their European counterparts to strike a deal. They prefer to meet for longer periods before a take-over is to be finalised.

The spokesman also said that both companies are at present working on the necessary applications and permits to start operating as soon as possible.

It was also noted that although the General Retailers and Traders Union (GRTU) President Vince Farrugia is against the Supermarket being taken over by a foreign investor, at the moment no-one could hold such a deal being struck.

"If the permits are all in good order and business wise things are being processed at the right manner, no-one could stop such negotiations," the same source told The Malta Financial & Business Times.

"The government is moving blindly and dangerously with regard to this issue". This was said in a statement by Mr Vince Farrugia, Secretary General of the GRTU, had told The Malta Financial and Business Times. Mr Farrugia’s greatest lament was that the GRTU, which for over 50 years has lead the retailing community, was not even consulted on this matter.

Mr Farrugia predicted that the employees who were left redundant by the closing down of Price Club will be absorbed by the rest of the market as the other retailers regain their momentum.

Mr Farrugia concluded by saying that once, if, Malta joins the European Union then foreign intervention will be more favourable but for the that is not the situation and we must judge from the current situation.

On the 2nd August 2001 in a letter addressed to Prime Minister, Dr Eddie Fenech Adami the GRTU pledged to the government not to allow a change in policy.

This change would entail the sale of Price Club to foreigners, au unprecedented policy for the retailing industry. The GRTU stressed that the wholesaling and retailing sector is not a one which is in need of foreign investment..

The Price Club chains of Supermarkets intense negotiations with Libyan foreign company Lafico may mean that around 500 people back to work as early as at the end of this month.

Besides having the Cortinthia Group and other international companies such as Fiat as shareholders, LAFICO is spread around the globe and has even shareholders in Africa.

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