14 September 2005


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TMFBT



Air Malta subsidiary valued at Lm25,000

James Debono

Citing “commercially sensitive” information, the Ministry for Investments and Information Technology has refused to divulge the price paid by Alpine Holdings Ltd to purchase former Air Malta subsidiary Sterling Travel and Tourism.
But the director of Alpine Travel Ltd found no problem in revealing that they paid Lm25,000 to buy the company.
“Air Malta is a commercial company and the information you are requesting as to prices is commercially sensitive,” a spokesperson for the ministry told The Malta Financial and Business Times.
Alpine Travel’s director Tony Zahra, however, informed this newspaper that the established share value of the company was set at Lm25,000 prior to the sale.
“There was no competition in this regard between the six bidders interested in buying this company as everybody was expected to pay the same pre-established price,” Alpine Ltd Director Tony Zahra said.
According to Zahra competition between the bidders for the sale of Sterling Travel and Tourism, centred around a five year contract to handle services for Holiday Malta Ltd.
But Zahra would not reveal the amount offered for this part of the tender by his company.
Air Malta is a government owned company currently undergoing a restructuring process driven by Minister Austin Gatt.
The sale of the subsidiary company was driven by the Privatisation Unit, which was involved in the selection process.
In March the airline had issued a request for proposals from interested parties to acquire Sterling Travel and Tourism. The buyers were obliged to absorb the 22 employees at the company, thus honouring the agreement with the unions that no redundancies would be carried out until March 2007.
According to the Ministry’s spokesperson the call for offers attracted the interest of Malta's leading destination management companies.
The sale, concluded in July, follows Air Malta’s current strategy to focus solely on core operations.

jdebono@newsworksltd.com



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