Malta Business Review Interview - Colin Gregory and Edward Saliba

Monday 05 March 2018

Colin Gregory, Managing Director of Equiom Malta explains what this acquisition means to Equiom. Edward Saliba, previously a Director and Head of Corporate Services at DF Corporate and now part of Equiom Malta, discusses the integration process from his perspective and the benefits it has brought to his team and clients.

What can you tell us about the recent acquisitions Equiom has completed, and why are they key in strengthening its presence in Europe?

CG: In October 2017, Equiom completed two acquisitions in one week with the acquisition of trust and fiduciary business Carey SAM in Monaco and trustee and fiduciary business DF Corporate here in Malta. A few weeks ago, we expanded into Luxembourg and added fund administration to our suite of services with the acquisition of Carey SA.

These acquisitions have further strengthened our position in Europe and support our strategy to seek sustainable growth across the EU market. Having a presence in Malta, Luxembourg and Monaco offers clients comfort, continuity and a sharper focus on the EU market during uncertain times.

ES: DF Corporate was, since its inception, very much focused on taking advantage of the main benefits of the local jurisdiction to serve clients. We have always aspired to be a global business but would have never been able to accomplish this on our own. Through joining Equiom, we can achieve a more global reach - a resourceful asset for the benefits of clients across the globe who have interests in Europe and more importantly within the EU market.

How will Equiom Malta’s acquisition of DF Corporate benefit clients – from both businesses?

CG: Equiom Malta was formed organically rather than through acquisition in 2012 and we obtained our licence from the MFSA under the Trust & Trustees Act in 2013. From the beginning, we had ambitious plans to grow the business in Malta. We searched for the right partner over a number of years to identify a good cultural fit and a company that complements our core strengths. The acquisition of DF Corporate expanded the Malta team to 14 staff. We can now offer a full range of support services to our clients that we previously did not have the resources to do.

ES: A larger team has given Equiom Malta more substance and, with an increasing focus on compliance and business continuity, it has allowed the business to become more robust to regulatory changes and requirements. The acquisition is the right decision for both companies in our quest to become more competitive.

Why is the team at DF Corporate Services such a perfect fit for Equiom?

CG: As a lawyer by profession, Edward brings a lot to the table. Under his leadership, DF Corporate has developed an in-depth knowledge of the local regulatory landscape. DF Corporate has more than a decade of experience in the corporate arena. The team has an accounting background, and a sound knowledge of VAT and other regulatory matters. It is the mix of client service experience and support services that really complements our offering. We have the specialist expertise needed to deliver our core services and, with the addition of DF Corporate, we can also provide a suite of support services coupled with local knowledge and experience.

How positive has the move to Equiom been?

ES: We consider it a certificate of prestige to be joining a true global business. Being part of a larger firm with years of expertise and worldwide capability will give us the ability to be more efficient with international structures. There are a lot of synergies – we are both proactive in our business interests, both seeking to expand, and we share the same core values, among them our commitment to clients, and this focus has made the integration process very smooth.

The acquisition has provided opportunities for us as well. To fully integrate the two businesses, we will adopt Equiom’s procedures and processes which will benefit our team and clients, ultimately helping us to operate globally.

Can you explain Equiom’s offering, its USP and what differentiates you globally?

CG: Our strength lies in our ability to build strong partnerships with our clients and intermediaries, and we have been recognised globally for our leading role in managing a diverse portfolio across a range of service lines.

Just recently, Equiom Malta was awarded ‘Trust Company of the Year’ for the Malta category in the 2018 Citywealth International Financial Centre Awards. This is the second year in a row we have received this accolade and it demonstrates our outstanding dedication and expertise in the sector, which sets us apart from the rest.

ES: I think the ability to offer tailor-made solutions to our client base, while also having access to a network of experts in countries all around the world, enables us to stand out as a professional services provider. The fact that we are recruiting top professionals in each of the jurisdictions in which we operate means that we are also building on the knowledge and expertise we have in these regions - and that makes us a very attractive alternative to competitors.

How important has the relocation to new offices in Mriehel been?

CG: It is a real feel-good factor to have everyone under one roof, working together as one team. The new look of the office signifies clear space for growth and is a positive message to our staff and to Malta that we are here to stay.

Mriehel itself is a great location because it is fast becoming a financial services hub with some of the larger corporations now relocating here. So, it is a good place to be and I think it will continue to develop as a favourable location for doing business.

ES: I would second that. I am very enthusiastic about the new offices. It is a good environment and the move was key to expediting the integration process. There is space for new workstations, so it is easy to imagine becoming a larger team in the future.

What does the future hold for Equiom Malta in terms of opportunities and challenges?

CG: There is a lot of interest in setting up businesses in Malta, and several reasons why this is the case. We are a politically and economically stable jurisdiction, with a steadily rising GDP (which is forecast to be more than 6% for 2018), have an attractive tax regime and a well-regulated jurisdiction.

Among the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, Malta offers advantages as an EU Member State. Brexit provides an opportunity for businesses to consider relocating their operations to other EU jurisdictions and Malta rates highly, for many of the reasons mentioned above.

With more regulations surrounding our industry, we anticipate seeing an increased amount of mergers as the regulatory requirements become too complex for some smaller businesses to cope with.

ES: The future is a challenging one. We see opportunities where others see complications. As part of a big group, we are well-equipped to face the changing demands of the market and we have the confidence to confront challenges both big and small. I am looking forward to the months and years ahead as part of the Equiom Group. 

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Find out more about Dr Edward Saliba and Colin Gregory