17 OCTOBER 2001

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Rumour mongering quashed as privatisation programme at MIA moves ahead

By Kurt Sansone

Details on the five consortia bidding for the Malta International Airport privatisation have not been made public, but eyebrows have already been raised by a number of individuals.

A rumour that was making the rounds over the past few weeks alleged that one of the directors at Malta International Airport formed part of one of the competing consortia.

The Malta Financial and Business Times can reveal that J. R. Darmanin, a director at Malta International Airport is in fact a director in one of the companies involved in a large consortium, however his role is not a crucial one.

MIA chairman Lawrence Zammit, answering questions put to him by this newspaper, said that Mr Darmanin’s involvement was minimal if at all.

"Mr Darmanin happens to be a director of a company that decided to participate in one of the consortia bidding for the job. The company’s share in the whole consortium is equivalent to one-tenth with hardly any influence what so ever."

Mr Zammit told this newspaper that the privatisation process is confidential and he does not discuss it with the directors or senior management. "I simply keep them abreast with major milestones in the process," Mr Zammit said.

Meanwhile the Privatisation Unit in the Finance Ministry confirmed that the privatisation of MIA is proceeding according to the time frames outlined in the Finance Ministry’s annual report. The selection of a strategic partner will be announced by the end of the year.

The Chairman of the Privatisation Unit Emanuel Ellul told The Malta Financial and Business Times that nine bids had been submitted by the September deadline. Mr Ellul said that following the evaluation of these bids five consortia were short listed.

Mr Ellul declined to give us information about the bidders citing a confidentiality agreement signed by the Privatisation Unit. "It would be inappropriate to disclose any information pertaining to them (the bidders)", Mr Ellul added.

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