16 May 2007

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Ministry confirms meetings on Malta Shipyards future

Gerald Fenech
Although discussions and meetings have apparently taken place in the past days on the future of Malta Shipyards, effectively confirming the story published by sister paper Malta Today last Sunday, the Ministry for Industry, Investment and IT have insisted that no offer to buy out the yard has been made as yet.
Replying to questions by Business Today late last night a spokesperson for MIIIT said that government has not received any offer for the privatisation of Malta Shipyards.
“It has to be pointed out that Government, the board of directors and the management of the company are continuously exploring all possible routes of how the organisation can improve its cost-effectiveness, its order book and its overall economic performance”, the ministry said.
The spokesperson said that in this context as part of its normal business operations MSL enters into discussions with third parties involved in most of the sectors in which MSL operates both from the supply and demand sides.
“As an integral part of these discussions, MSL is open to consider any measures that can improve its performance or its strategic position in the global shipyard markets. Such discussions have, are and will keep on taking place.
However, these discussions do not constitute an offer for equity, which is a matter that can be dealt with exclusively by Government as the shareholder of the company”.
The ministry said that in the event that any of these discussions develop into a potential offer, such proposal would need to be referred to the Government as the shareholder for it to consider if it feels it so desirable to pursue further.
“For the avoidance of doubt, to date, there have been no such proposals”, the spokesperson concluded.

Earlier yesterday, the Ministry for Investment, Industry and IT referred to reports in sections of the press that it or someone else acting as representatives of Malta Shipyards are in “secret talks” with a UK based company with a view to selling the shipyards. The ministry categorically denied such allegations.
Contacted yesterday, General Workers Union Secretary General Tony Zarb said that the talks were ‘news’ to him and he had absolutely no idea whether such negotiations were taking place.
“In any case, the union has not been informed of any developments on this issue and we have no comment to add”, Zarb said.

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