While the Malta Financial Services Centre has been quite successful in attracting investment funds to Malta, particularly in the areas of domicile and fund administration, these funds have not really approached the Malta Stock Exchange to seek a listing.
It is clear that, at a time when investment funds are looking at new jurisdictions as alternatives to the more traditional bases from which to operate their business, this is an opportune moment for Malta and for the exchange to try to capture new business in this area.
Notwithstanding all that the Maltese financial industry and the exchange can offer, it still remains a relatively unknown jurisdiction in the fund sector. Accordingly, Malta is marketing itself much more aggressively, particularly in a current global financial climate that has created a window of opportunity for new jurisdictions to capture some of the business that hitherto has been the unchallenged province of a few established fund centres.
The arguments in favour of a fund listing are manifold. As a private fund manager, you need to raise your profile among a wider, global investor base; you want to demonstrate your track record with appropriate levels of disclosure and transparency that are part and parcel of an institutional investor's due diligence process; and you want to encourage secondary market liquidity to enable that wider investor base to trade their stakes.
The Malta Stock Exchange has a very high level of regulation and transparency, its costs and fees are very competitive, processing of applications for both primary and secondary listings is fast, and we have skilled and experienced human resources.
As a result, the exchange is already in a good position to market itself as a solid, alternative venue for fund business. Furthermore, the exchange's relatively small size means we are able to react faster to business queries, providing a more intimate, flexible and fast service at costs that are very competitive in comparison with those in other markets.
In an effort to upgrade the level of facilities offered by the Maltese exchange to the fund industry, we are setting up new technical links with foreign exchanges, depositories and settlement systems. These links are designed to provide the necessary infrastructure to facilitate entry into the local market by foreign investors, at both the institutional and retail levels, thereby boosting liquidity levels in our market.
We have recently also completely updated our website which now features the publication of news on Malta-listed securities and the ability to search for both updated and historical market data including corporate actions, closing prices, net asset values and other information on listed companies by a variety of search facilities.
At the same time, we are looking at innovative solutions to increase the value proposition of listing on the Malta exchange. We are also reviewing the legislative and fiscal environment for listed funds in order to make listing on the exchange more attractive to the international fund industry, and focusing on the creation of niche markets for specific products, some of which are currently not available anywhere else in Europe.
The Malta Stock Exchange offers a fine opportunity to international funds looking at Malta as a base for their business, allowing them to take advantage of a personalised approach and fast-track processing of applications within a highly regulated and growing marketplace.
Mark Guillaumier is chief executive of Malta Stock Exchange