The Family Business Act which the Government is working on, would make Malta unique among EU states.

Such a law would facilitate the continued existence of family businesses, which form the backbone of Maltese economy, Economy Minister Chris Cardona said this morning.

Addressing a half-day seminar organised by the Malta Association of Family Enterprises (Mafe) in collaboration with Bank of Valletta, Dr Cardona noted that around 70 per cent of local businesses were run or controlled by families.

Unfortunately, these businesses tended to collapse as the family expanded and new generations came to the stage.

Since its inception in 2011, the Mafe has been lobbying for a legislative framework that would assist family businesses and their advisers in planning and the preparation for the transition of the business from one generation to the next.

Dr Cardona pointed out that there were about 30,000 small family businesses, employing between one and five people. Together, they employed more than 38,000 people.

However, only 30 per cent of businesses which completed the successful transition from the first to the second generation survived for the long term.

Less than 10 per cent of such businesses scraped through to the third generation.

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