The Department of Contracts, which is usually forthcoming when it comes to providing information on bidders and bidding processes, is holding back on disclosing the identity of companies and contractors behind the multimillion-euro bids for the privatisation of the iconic Evans Building in lower Valletta.
Following the closing of bids last month, six consortia offered between €41 and €21 million for a 65-year temporary emphyteusis to convert the building into a five-star hotel.
The Shift has asked the Department of Contacts for a list of the members of the different consortia but, despite various reminders, it is not publishing the names. This is the first time that the Department of Contracts is holding back on providing such public information.
The Department had no qualms about supplying The Shift with the information requested in other instances, such as when it came to the bidders behind the ongoing €400 million waste-to-energy plant tender and another large project at the Malta Freeport.
At the close of the Evans Building bidding period, which had been extended by a week at the 11th hour, a joint venture going by the name of Katari Hospitality made the highest bid for the building, at €40.7 million.
A second consortium, Iconic Hotel Malta, in conjunction with Nobu, followed closely with a bid of €39.3 million.
The price is not the only factor the evaluation committee will consider before making its final selection.
It is understood that although the Contracts Department is conducting the bidding process, the crucial evaluation is being carried out directly by the Office of the Prime Minister through Malta Strategic Partnerships Projects Ltd, formerly better known as Projects Malta.
MSPPL has been involved in several corrupt processes in the past few years, including the Vitals-Steward hospitals’ concession that the courts struck down in February.
Staffed by officials close to Prime Minister Robert Abela, MSPPL is expected to select the evaluation committee members for the last round of negotiations.
Other bids submitted included HV Hospitality (€24 million), AX Group (€22.6 million), Sea Bank Hotel and Catering Ltd (€20.9 million) and Valletta Luxury Properties (€1.2 million).
Unlike commercial companies, consortia are not officially registered.