28 January 2004

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Parliamentary resolution will dictate sale of land of Airmalta hotels

By Matthew Vella
An Airmalta spokesperson told The Malta Financial and Business Times yesterday that the sale of land for the national airline’s hotels will have to proceed through a parliamentary resolution.
Airmalta is currently attempting to divest itself from three subsidiaries which operate hotels on the island. The private investors within the three Airmalta subsidiaries facing divestiture have however not yet responded to offers from the Airmalta group to purchase the airline’s shareholding in the companies.
These are French-based Accor SA, which has a 10 per cent shareholding in Selmun Palace Co Ltd, which operates the Gran Mercure Selmun Palace Hotel, and Ta’ Xbiex Lapins Ltd, which has a 19 per cent interest in Hal-Ferh Co Ltd, which operates Hal-Ferh holiday complex and part of Medisle Village.
The other subsidiary, Tigné Development Co Ltd, which operates the Holiday Inn Crown Plaza in Sliema, is owned by Airmalta and another subsidiary, Malta Air Charter Co Ltd.
Since the land of the three subsidiaries is government-owned, a parliamentary resolution will have to be passed for the sale of the land. An Airmalta spokesperson told the Malta Financial and Business Times that the airline’s board of directors were still examining the details concerning the sale of the companies and the land.
The spokesperson said that until divestiture, all three companies retain their rights to the land. However, the national airline’s directors are expected to take into consideration the consequences of the parliamentary resolution, since this would put into play parliamentary debate on the terms of sale of the three companies.
Last week, Airmalta chairman Lawrence Zammit told this newspaper there was "no intention" of any redundancies in the three hotel subsidiaries of the national airline until divestiture. Zammit was reacting to Labour leader Alfred Sant’s statements that there could be imminent job losses from Airmalta’s subsidiaries.
Zammit said the company had already publicly declared that it would be Airmalta’s strategy to divest from its shareholding in the three companies in the near future but that it was not the intention of the company to lay off workers until the hotels are divested from the group. "In the end our strategy is to divest our shareholding in these companies, but we are not planning on making any people redundant."

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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