A new currency-printing facility in Malta, heavily financed by the government’s foreign investment arm, Malta Enterprise, has been sold to a US company, the Times of Malta is informed.
However, according to a spokesman for Crane Currency, the $800 million deal will not affect the future of the Maltese plant. On the contrary, sources close to the company said that the ‘Maltese investment’ was part of the pull factors of the sale of the whole company.
“The Maltese plant was one of the major selling points of the mother company based in Boston.
“Crane’s shareholders made such a good deal when negotiating with the Maltese government that the Maltese state-of-the-art plant has increased significantly the selling price of the mother company,” the sources said.
Malta Enterprise, which led the negotiations to convince Crane to come to Malta and committed taxpayers to some €81 million in exposure, said on Thursday that it was aware of the sale of the parent company.
“We have been kept abreast of all the developments,” a spokeswoman for Malta Enterprise said.
“This eventual acquisition will not affect the Malta plant. In fact, Malta Enterprise is informed that the Malta facility is a major factor in the decision of the new shareholders to acquire Crane Currency,” she insisted.
A spokesman for Crane Currency in the US said: “We expect business as usual for all our operations including Malta. The Malta operations are a key component of our growth plan”.
According to a company announcement made last Wednesday, Crane Currency will now be sold to a company from Connecticut for $800 million.
The De Falco family – the original owners who negotiated the terms of the Maltese deal with the government – will bow out of the company.
The new company acquiring Crane Currency and all its plants around the world, called Crane Co Inc, has four business segments and 11,000 employees in 150 locations in 26 countries.
It provides a range of products and solutions to customers in the hydrocarbon processing, petrochemical, power generation and aerospace sectors, among others.
The announcement that Crane Currency will be building a new plant in Malta, employing some 300 workers, was made by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, late in 2015.
Although both the government and Malta Enterprise refused to reveal the details of the deal, which was said to have cost the US company some $100 million, it later transpired that Malta Enterprise would be forking out much of the investment.
Apart from financing the €27 million tailor-made factory in Ħal Far, expected to be operational this February, the Maltese government also agreed to guarantee most of the loans needed by Crane to buy its machinery and plant equipment.
Malta Enterprise further agreed to subsidise interest rates on loans acquired from Bank of Valletta.
At the time of the deal, questions were raised on the involvement of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, since Dr Muscat had singled him out for his involvement as “the catalyst” behind the deal.
Privately, Dr Muscat’s chief aide owns Kasco Group, the main provider of printing paper and machinery on the island, among other activities.
When asked about any possible conflict of interest, the OPM said that Mr Schembri played no role in the actual negotiations with the Maltese government but only “facilitated” the deal.
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