Announce the acquisition at the Prime Minister’s Office?
ister for tax reasons. In that same trip the Maltese delegation invited us to visit Malta and a few months later I led a delegation and came to Malta. During our visit we were in discussions with the Malta Chamber of Commerce and Malta Enterprise, and they showed us various fields which we were interested to invest in. During the same meeting we asked them if there was a bank for sale and they gave us a picture of what the banking scene in Malta is. From that point on we asked our team in Doha to start studying the banking sector in Malta.
During the press conference the Prime Minister thanked his Chief of Staff Keith Schembri. What exactly was his role?
If it wasn’t for his Mr Schembri we would not be here. When Dr Muscat came to Qatar he asked Mr Schembri to follow it up with us and advise us on what sectors we should cover. It was Mr Schembri himself that organised the meetings with the Malta Chamber of Commerce and Malta Enterprise. But to make things clear, the transactions were conducted between Al Faisal Investment and Banif Portuguese. I also want to stress that all the meetings were held in Portugal and no one from Malta was present.
Do you have MFSA clearance to operate in the financial services in Malta? When did you apply to MFSA?
Yes we do. It started with a bidding process by Banif Portugal in 2015 and when the entire process was done we were chosen as the preferred bidder. After that we started the regulating processes with MFSA and approval from the European Central Bank. This is a very rigid process which took months and now we have everything in place.
Banks are systemically important for the economy of a county. So for a government this is an important transaction because this problem had to be resolved one way or the other irrespective of who the shareholders are For us as investors it was important to see that we have the full support of the government and the Malta Chamber of Commerce. on the international map and be recognised internationally.
So far Banif has been a community bank; however the new shareholders, Al Faisal Holdings, have said that the intention is to go into private banking. How are you going to target these high net worth individuals?
We intend to grow our existing business with the local community and increase market share locally because it is very important for us. But on top of that there are a number of other things we can bring to the bank because of Malta’s geographical position, the safe jurisdiction it offers and the knowledge it offers in the financial sector. All this will help us target high net worth individuals because of the attractive features it offers. One of our intentions is to target investment and entrepreneurs from the Middle East region and our bank can play an important role.
You said that you have further intentions to invest more in Malta? What kind of investment are you looking at?
There are mainly four areas we are looking at – hospitality, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and education. Since we have various partners and investments around the world and Malta has a good relationship with all the countries, we feel that this is an opportunity to get business to Malta.