Bank of Valletta highlights internationalisation
Valletta Fund Management last week hosted an international
conference entitled Malta Regional Developments and Opportunities
in Financial Services, which was attended by a large number of
delegates from Malta, neighbouring countries and the Gulf region.
Speaking at the conference, Bank of Valletta Group Chairman Joseph F
X Zahra focussed on the important role of the financial services industry;
the Barcelona Process and the challenges the Euro-Mediterranean region
is facing; how Bank of Valletta has embarked on an Internationalisation
process to take full advantages of the opportunities available in the
"Today, the financial services sector plays a critical role in
the allocation of resources within national economies," he explains.
"Without an efficient and well-managed financial system, other
areas of the economy will be seriously hindered. Clearly, the financial
services sector is the blood stream of the economic machinery of every
nation, particularly in today's global economy. This sector accounts
for more than five percent of GNP in most developed countries and in
many developing countries.
Commenting on the Barcelona Process and the challenges the Euro-Mediterranean
region is facing, Mr Zahra comments, "During the Euro-Mediterranean
Conference held in November 1995 in Barcelona, the European Union and
12 Mediterranean States signed the Barcelona Declaration. One of the
three main goals of this Declaration is The creation of an area
of shared prosperity through the progressive establishment of free trade
between the EU and its partners and among the partners themselves, in
view of the creation of the wider Euro-Mediterranean free trade area
"This is being achieved through a network of bilateral Associated
Agreements between the EU and each Mediterranean country. This free-trade
area is going to link together the 15 EU Member States and the 12 Mediterranean
Partners and at a later stage EFTA and Central, Eastern European candidate
countries. This forms a market of between 600 to 800 million consumers,
namely, one of the worlds most important trade entities.
"The last three years have seen a significant development in Euro-Mediterranean
relations. Almost all the countries and territories have signed up their
association agreement with the European Union. These agreements are
not only important for relations across the Mediterranean but they are
also stimulating a new type of dialogue among the partners themselves.
"Sub-regional free trade agreements, like the so-called Agadir
process between Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, have to be
hailed and supported as a genuine effort to open up their economies
to their neighbours and enhance regional integration.
"Between 1990 and 2000, there has been a marked increase in trade
flows between the EU and its Mediterranean partners. Exports to the
European Union by its Mediterranean partners has doubled in ten years
to reach 64 billion Euros, whilst imports from the European Union to
its Mediterranean partners has more than doubled and reached 85 billion
Euros. The Euro-Mediterranean financial service institutions have played
an important role in achieving these positive results.
"The financial structures of the Mediterranean countries are still
very different from one another, but in all of them, there is an intense
process of change underway. All have recorded significant progress.
Interest rates have been decontrolled, while quantitative restraints
on the expansion of credit have been largely abolished. Monetary policy
often has abandoned direct controls in favour of indirect instruments.
Central Bank autonomy has been strengthened. Prudential banking regulations
have approached international standards while State-ownership of banks
has been reduced. Stock exchanges have introduced electronic trading
facilities and many are now privately managed."
Mr Zahra went on to speak about the Banks growing internationalisation
process, "The transformation of the Mediterranean financial systems
will continue, and it is for this reason that we, at Bank of Valletta
believe in the potential of the emerging Euro-Mediterranean region.
The BOV Group has been closely following the liberalisation, deregulation,
modernisation processes taking place in each country and the enhanced
regional integration. We are making sure that our international strategy
exploits all the possibilities available to us within the Mediterranean
"Bank of Vallettas international strategy is basically a
Euro-Mediterranean regional strategy based on four main pillars, namely:
"Having direct connections in key strategic markets through our
regional representative offices which are of benefit to our business
customers; utilising Electronic Alternative delivery channels; teaming
up with international partners to design and market tailor-made products
for the Euro-Mediterranean region; servicing of our international and
local high net worth customers through our Bank of Valletta International
"We have already set in motion our international
strategy not only at banking level, which has been initiated with the
opening of strategic representative offices in neighbouring markets,
but also though our subsidiary Valletta Fund Management which as you
will see during the course of this Conference has already achieved a
degree of success.
"Mentioning success, we are extremely pleased with the development
of Valletta Fund Management over these years. The assets under management
have reached serious numbers. Over this year it has managed to maintain
its leading presence in Malta. In fact we are pleased to note that over
this financial year, business has increased by over 40 per cent and
the increase in the number of new investors by over 16 per cent.
"Success does not come by itself, it is a result of dynamism, competence,
dedication and hard work, values that one finds in VFM and a good team
that works there. I would like to thank this opportunity to thank them
for their efforts. The company is embarking on an ambitious internationalisation
programme and I am sure that it will be successful.
"In the final analysis, we, at Bank of Valletta have the right
mindset, energy, innovation, and are restless for change and prepared
for the challenges and opportunities ahead of us. We have already taken
The conference was also addressed by Dr Anthony Abela, Parliamentary
Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs; Professor
Joseph V. Bannister, Chairman of the Malta Financial Services Authority;
Kenneth Farrugia, Assistant General Manager of Valletta Fund Management
responsible for the company's marketing and business development activities;
Mario C. Grech, Chairman, Middlesea Group; Mark A Guillaumier, Chief
Executive, Malta Stock Exchange; Dr. Neville Gatt, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers;
and Dr Louis de Gabriele, Partner - Camilleri Preziosi & Associates
And FIMBank General Manager Ray Busuttil.
A number of the foreign speakers also gave their views and contributed
towards the success of this event namely Insight Investments top
executives Richard Robinson, Director Strategic Relationships, Insight
Investment Management Limited, Alex Illingworth, Director Global Equity
Funds, Insight Investment Management Limited and Mark Connolly, Managing
Director Institutional, Insight Investment Management Limited. Other
speakers included Lilia Abdelwahed, Director of International Relations,
Cofib Capital Finances of Tunisia and Shireen Alkady, Chairman, Prime
The Conference, sponsored by Bank of Valletta and Insight Investment
was also supported by the Malta Financial Service Authority, the Malta
Stock Exchange, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Camilleri Preziosi and Associates
and the Corinthia Group.