22 March 2006

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Business Today

An appetite for growth

Kurt Sansone

Changing a company’s name and livery is the traditional marketing tool to signify a new beginning but for GlobalCapital, formerly known as the Global Group, last week’s change is a reflection of the company’s innate hunger for continuously breaking new ground in the market place.
The company’s rapid expansion over the years to offer an array of financial services has raised the odd eyebrow in the market place but company officials are confident that the aggressive outlook towards growth has enabled the group to lower its risk.
Nicholas Portelli, CEO at GlobalCapital says that diversification of the company’s portfolio through rapid growth has lowered the risk for shareholders and placed the group as one of the key market players in the sector.
“From a management and board of directors point of view there has been a thirst for growth,” Portelli says. “The re-branding exercise portrays the company’s dynamism and pro-active approach in the market. We felt the need to present our clients and the market with a unified image and a unique clear message for all the services we offer. In this way we can consolidate our business and provide customers with the same personal treatment, irrespective of which service they avail themselves of.”
Portelli will not reveal anything about the financial results for 2005 to be presented on Friday but the mood in the market place is that GlobalCapital will come out with some interesting numbers.
The company offers the whole array of financial services, from health insurance to fund investment, life policies to property management with the only missing link being banking services.
"In this respect we are open for any available opportunities, which we will evaluate and consider, just as we did in the past with life insurance and property," Portelli says.
Private pensions are considered to be a growth opportunity for the financial services sector in the years to come but the pension reform proposals rolled out by government have left the industry in a fix. Portelli says the proposals are a “good first step” but the industry “expected more.”
“We are happy that government is mindful of reform and is taking steps to address the issue but we expected more detail. In terms of planning we are still where we were a year ago. Without the details of what government has in mind on private pension schemes we are at a loss. We need to know the timing of things because that is the most crucial element for our planning requirements and the tax position, which would determine the structure and appetite for the funds. Ideally, the reforms would tackle both the second and third pillar at one go,” he says.
Whereas private pensions can provide GlobalCapital with the chance of expanding horizontally into a new market, in health insurance the company is expecting to grow BUPA’s 60 per cent market share vertically.
“Most people have taken up health insurance as part of a package offered by their place of work. But most clients are covered at entry level and we intend to focus on encouraging people to take up more extensive health covers,” Portelli says.
Health insurance premiums are linked to the level of claims made and Portelli insists that if the whole industry, including the medical profession work to contain costs, the take-up of health insurance policies will be made easier.
“BUPA has recently concluded an agreement with St Philips Hospital and we are also entering a new phase of talks with medical practitioners to be able to understand each other better. It pays for everyone if costs are contained,” Portelli says.
But GlobalCapital’s vision goes beyond Malta’s shores. In tune with the breathtaking view of the Marsamxett harbour from Portelli’s office, situated at level four of the company’s headquarters at the Strand in Gzira, GlobalCapital is slowly sailing out of Maltese waters and heading south.
The company has already opened a representative office in Libya and over the coming years will seek to expand its lines of business in North Africa and the Middle East.
“We want to replicate what we’ve done in Malta in other countries and the southern Mediterranean rim and the Middle East offer interesting growth opportunities. We will be investing in property and there is also a healthy market for life and unit linked insurances and pension schemes. Expanding overseas will give us a diverse revenue stream,” Portelli says.
But the re-branding exercise will not see GlobalCapital turning to the market with another share issue. “Being a listed company gives us various possibilities including the chance to issue more shares on the market but there are no immediate plans for this to happen as yet. Our intention is to consolidate the business and focus on growth,” Portelli says.
Approving the new logo and livery will be a secondary issue for the board of directors next Friday as their eyes will be set on the company’s growth and its future prospects.


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Editor: Kurt Sansone
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