An interview with Tumas Group Chairman George Fenech featured in this edition of Business Today reveals that final preparations are underway for a bond issue to be launched by the group tomorrow.
“We are seeing a slowdown in property development this year and we know that the situation is temporary,” Fenech told Business Today. “There will be an improvement by next year. But players in this industry need liquidity so they can take advantage of such new opportunities.”
Fenech and did not rule out more public issues in store for the future. Mentioning the possibility of an eventual Initial Public Offering, he said: “Why not? Why shouldn’t the public benefit with us? Besides, when it comes to large-scale developments, there is a limit as to how much Maltese banks can lend, so the other viable option would be to be financed by the public.”
Fenech started importing furniture to Malta from Italy in his teens, filling up a small showroom which then grew into Qormi’s Easysell. “One thing then led to the other,” he said. “In the 1970s, we were the first to build and market self-catering apartments to tourists. Then in 1978, we opened the Cartwheel Hotel – which is when I became involved in catering and hospitality. We were doing very well. By 1981 we bought the Topaz Hotel, and two years later we pioneered in offering timeshare in Malta. In 1984 we went on to purchase the Halland Hotel, followed by the acquisition of the Dolmen in 1985, the Hilton in 1986 and Mġarr Hotel in 1989.”
Tumas Group also owns the Hilton Hotel in Evian-les-Bains on Lake Geneva in France, but the Fenechs have various other interests apart from tourism. The group is involved in the development of first-class office space which they rent out to established local and foreign companies; it fully owns and rents out a private jet; it owns the Kia franchise in Malta; it has formed a partnership with Portech international to operate the Valletta Gateway Terminal; it owns two casinos; and is heavily involved in developing and selling off luxury dwellings.