Plans to Upgrade Manoel Island Yacht Yard

MEDIA ROOM

A consortium is expected to invest €6 million to upgrade the Manoel Island Yacht Yard as it begins its operations today having taken it over for a period of 30 years.

The Manoel Island Yacht Yard consortium will start a process to recruit at least 70 employees and possibly more when it expands the 35,000-square metre facility on reclaimed land to be able to handle another 20 yachts and a crane, which could lift larger boats.

The take-over signing ceremony took place under a tent at the facility on the peninsula. The consortium will be making €25 million, including €18.8 million on the concession and rent and fees on the land.

The consortium is made up of Bezzina Ship Repair Yard, Central European Advisors Ltd, Hili International, Midi, Mizzi Capital Projects and Virtù Steamship Holdings Ltd.

Presiding over the signing ceremony, Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said the process had attracted considerable interest with the Privatisation Unit that received three bids for the yard.

He said the Manoel Island Yacht Yard Consortium’s bid was “by far” the best and it was made up of established companies that promised growth and jobs.

Mr Fenech said the new owners would be making a down payment of €5.2 million and pay an annual rent of €225,000, which increases by 15 per cent every five years and an additional rent of €265,000 for the first 10 years of operations.

Consortium director Victor Bezzina said the foremost priority would be upgrading the present infrastructure. With regard to the number of boats on site, which have been there for years, Mr Bezzina said these had either been sold by auction or scrapped after their previous owners had left them there due to lack of funds to pay for the services.

Asked about new fees, Mr Bezzina said these had been set during the negotiations with the Privatisation Unit and would remain as they stood today.

The yard was one of the four units of the Malta Shipyards which the government started to privatise in August 2008. The yard was the only one of the four components that made profit.

The ship repair facility was handed over to Italian firm Palumbo Spa last month and this was followed by allegations of corruption in the privatisation of another of the Malta Shipyards’ facilities: the Malta Super Yachts.

The allegations, being investigated by the police, should not overshadow the privatisation of the other components, Mr Fenech said when asked whether it was opportune to go ahead with the privatisations despite the police investigations.

“What we have here is a consortium made up of serious companies willing to invest in the Manoel Island Yacht Yard, employ people and invest to continue improving the service. This single allegation of a request, rather than corruption, should not overshadow this process,” he said.