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MALTATODAY 16 October 2022

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4 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 16 OCTOBER 2022 NEWS CARS WANTED The Director of Fondazzjoni Sebħ is calling on all car importers, car dealers, car hire companies, car leasing companies, business owners and private citizens to see whether they can contribute towards the acquisition of five cars in good condition for the transportation of children aged three to 18 residing within the Foundation's residential homes. These cars are required to transport these children to medical appointments, therapy, extracurricular activities, outings and other commitments. Those interested in donating a vehicle or contributing towards this project are kindly requested to contact Ms Yvonne Mallia on CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Since then however, the gov- ernment has not divested itself of its shareholding as originally intended. But government sources speak- ing to this newspaper said the NDSF was caught unprepared by the bank's announcement that it intends to access the capital mar- kets with a share issue. That much was confirmed in a letter sent by the NDSF to the bank's management and board of directors, in which it objected to the new share issue and what this would do to the value of the agen- cy's – effectively government's – shareholding. Over 1,200 shareholders, and investment funds, hold the re- maining shares in Lombard Bank, which besides the NDSF, is owned by Virtu Holdings (9.89%), LifeStar Insurance (5.59%) and First Gemini p.l.c. (5.31%). Lombard has a controlling 71.5% stake in Redbox, the owner of postal operator Maltapost plc. Shareholders will now be asked on 10 November to approve a proposed share split, which is in- tended to allow easier access to a larger number of investors to ac- quire shares, so that this increas- es trading liquidity in the share issue. But it is the announced share issue – not the share split – that has current and prospective in- vestors worried. Lombard Bank has not yet indicated how large a share issue it is planning. Cur- rently it has an allocation of 80 million ordinary shares at 25c each – €20 million – with over 45 million shares issued for a value of €11.3 million. Investors understand that the share-split would help encourage trading activity, by making these 'split' shares accessible to a wider spectrum of investors. But it is the share issue that can prove quite contentious, since it dilutes existing shareholders' power unless they invest in the new issue and buy more shares to maintain their current level of shareholding percentage. That is an issue of no concern to either small or incoming re- tail investors. But to the Maltese government and other corporate investors, it leads to a diluted in- fluence. When contacted, Lombard Bank CEO Joe Said – who is also director of the private investment fund First Gemini – refused to is- sue any comment on the NDSF's position. Said that as an entity listed on the Malta Stock Exchange, "Lombard Bank is bound by reg- ulatory obligations, a number of which also relate to disclosure of price sensitive information". He said that once the bank con- siders it necessary to update the market it will do so by way of company announcements. Lombard Bank is to ask its shareholders to approve a 2-for- 1 share split as it looks to attract new investors by issuing new shares. Directors are recom- mending that each €0.25 share be split into two, each with a nomi- nal value of €0.125. State passport fund objecting to dilution of 49% stake Lombard Bank CEO Joe Said (right) - the bank owns Maltapost, Malta's sole national postal operator. The bank, previously owned by Cypriot investors, obtained the support of the government's 'golden passport' posterity fund to faciliate the exit of its foreign shareholders to maintain its domestic position. But the State has so far not divested itself of its shareholding CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 In one meeting with Abela he was told that his constant references to Joseph Muscat were a matter of concern, with Cuschieri's defence of the embattled, former lead- er not entirely in line with where Abela's Labour wants to position itself. In these meetings Abela was accompanied by Labour dep- uty leader for party affairs, Daniel Micallef, and party CEO, and Labour MP, Ran- dolph Debattista. Cuschieri retorted that he had always praised all Labour leaders, "especially Abela". As an unofficial propagan- dist, Cuschieri's daily ser- mons garnered an elderly La- bourite listenership with his typically unforgiving narra- tive for all-things-Nationalist or Labour detractors. Towards the beginning of summer, Cuschieri's long- time programme was put on a hiatus for the summer, after having mounted a defence of Joseph Muscat, who had been tapped to become the presi- dent of the Premier League consortium of Maltese foot- ball clubs. He referred to a report by blogger Manuel Delia, claim- ing Castille had taken an in- terest in influencing clubs not to support Muscat's bid – Cuschieri insisted De- lia's claims were a lie, but if proved truthful, it would be himself to reveal Muscat's detractors inside Castille. His defence of the erstwhile PM provoked a reaction from a senior party official, who said the radio show would cease broadcasting for the summer. Cuschieri, um- braged, turned to Facebook live to broadcast his polem- ics, although much of his ra- dio audience failed to migrate to the social media platform. He then followed Muscat's tack with a vocal condem- nation for the criminal ar- raignment of former Infra- structure Malta boss Fredrick Azzopardi, invoking support- ers to put up a show of sup- port outside the law courts. The weak turnout was a flop for Cuschieri. But Labour felt the need to disassociate itself from Cus- chieri's overt defence of Azz- opardi, saying it had been en- tirely his personal initiative: "The Labour Party respects the autonomy of the institu- tions, in the same way that it respects the right of every individual to make his voice heard peacefully – This is a personal initiative of Mr Cus- chieri." On Friday, Cuschieri once again took to his Facebook page for a two-hour lives- Labour top brass complained to Cuschieri about his defence of Joseph Muscat "I have now the absolute liberty of mentioning all the people associated with the Labour Party, who deserve praise and worthy defence, who might be unjustly attacked... I want to be 'truth's friend'."

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