By David Robinson

Out of 28 expressions of interest shown in the 175,000 metre squared former Marsa Shipbuilding site in Malta’s Grand Harbour, 15 directly relate to performing yacht work. The Maltese government wants the site to be developed as a maritime hub. The site take over is being organised through the Privatisation Unit, which previously handled other yacht-related privatisations such as Malta Superyacht Services.

In the bid document, the government says: “In undertaking to develop the Marsa shipbuilding site, investors will accept the responsibility to develop the facility to be run profitably and in a way that ensures that government and those using the facilities are fully satisfied with the level and quality of the services provided. The services to be provided will be to acceptable local regulatory and international standards and are aimed to assist the development of the Maltese economy. Furthermore, this will be a fully private sector venture that will inject private sector capital investment into the Maltese economy. No capital support for the project will be required from the government.”

The government will expect investors to abide by ‘green’ construction concepts, using less energy and generating less waste. Also international principles for integrated coastal zone management would be met and comply with EU regulation.

Of the 28 businesses that expressed an interest, 22 were from Malta. The other six potential investors were European and were included as part of consortiums. Of the six, three were from Italy, one from Gibraltar and two from the UK, with one from Scotland and one from Liverpool. It is not known if all the yacht-related requests were just from Malta.

The government’s vision for the hub comprises a mix of facilities and yachts operating as a centre of excellence. In respect of yacht activities, this would include:

* Marina facilities. This includes the development and maintenance of a marina including quays, berths, piers and necessary amenities and supporting services;

* Maritime vessel facilities. These facilities are to offer a wide range of services including chandelling, modification, conversion and maintenance of yachts, superyachts, sea craft and other maritime vessels, amongst others;

* Ancillary facilities. These facilities are intended to offer support services in ship management and agency, ship broking, ship financing, maritime and mutual insurance and maritime legal and arbitration services;

* Innovation facilities. These facilities are intended to foster research and development in maritime and marine studies, marine engineering, maritime information technology and other ancillary academic maritime related sciences.