Ministry, other scheduled buildings and Valletta seashore being privatised

Carmelo Stivala Group set to win the tender.


The old fish market building on the water’s edge of Valletta’s Grand Harbour, better known as il-Pixkerija, is on its way to being privatised and turned into another luxury hotel.

The concession will also give away more historical buildings, including that hosting the current Energy Ministry, three stores from the times of Grand Master Pinto, the former Quarantine Hospital – a Grade 1 building – and over two football grounds’ worth of seashore that will be turned into a yacht marina and berthing facilities.

The request for proposals that closed on Wednesday morning shows that the Carmelo Stivala Group, which is owned by the family of Malta Developers Association President Michael Stivala, is in pole position to acquire the 65-year concession after submitting the best financial offer at €38.5 million for the concession’s whole term.

The only other taker for the Office of the Prime Minister’s offer was Bonnici Brothers Ltd – led by Gilbert Bonnici, a former business partner of Prime Minister Robert Abela.

The value of Bonnici’s offer – of €15.7 million, or €242,435 a year – was less than half of that tabled by the Stivalas.

According to the Contracts Department, while the Stivalas presented a global sum in their bid, the Bonnicis listed an annual concession fee.

The areas in red have been included in the concession.

According to the request for proposals, apart from a minimum of €208,250 in annual concession fees, the winning bidder will also have to pay the Lands Authority a ground rent of €357,000 a year and another €50,000 in annual fees to Transport Malta for the seashore concession.

This is the second luxury hotel that the government is proposing in its drive to privatise historic buildings in Valletta.

Less than a kilometre away, Evans Building is also up for grabs, and it is also to become a hotel. A decision has not yet been taken on the winning bidder because while GAP’s Paul Attard submitted the highest offer, an offer from the Eden Leisure Group and Mark Weingard is still under consideration.

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association and the Malta Chamber have stated that the island already has an oversupply.

The Carmelo Stivala Group, which employs disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat as a consultant, is already slated to take a similar concession in Sliema – Chalet.

Following a public tender, the Stivalas emerged as the only bidders and offered €8.4 million for the 65-year concession. That deal has not yet been concluded.

While the potential conversion of the Pixkerija into a hotel has been on the cards for years, the joint privatisation of other historic buildings in the area and an enormous seashore area has never been mentioned.

Sources speaking to The Shift have observed that the additions to the concession were necessary to render the project viable.

Observers noted a possible catch in the offer through a clause stipulating that the government, after submissions, can add a separate modification to the concession for the construction and management of “wave-breaking infrastructure” for the location.

While the area is susceptible to inclement weather conditions and will most probably necessitate some form of breakwater, the concession’s conditions could eventually be altered after final negotiations.

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Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
26 days ago

What is part of the National Heritage should always belong to the Nation – and in no way be sold to private enterprise.

It is similiar to a reckless and spendthrift father selling the family heirlooms in order to make some money and to cover up for his erratic ways in depriving his offspring of a decent living by earning a decent regular income.

Roland Young
Roland Young
26 days ago

Any idea how much tax payers money was spent refurbishing the ministry? It was only completed about 18 months ago!

26 days ago

Gilbert Bonnici, a former business partner of Prime Minister Robert Abela. A friend in need is a friend indeed. In need of a banker?

Lucius Malfoy
Lucius Malfoy
26 days ago

From Pixkerija to Porkerija

26 days ago
Reply to  Lucius Malfoy

It is shameful that in Gzira this same company has taken most of the parking places for their hotels leaving only a few sloths for the residents. The rooms in their hotels are like pigeon holes which should not be so . When one hosts students they give them a list of things and stipulate the size of the rooms and these do not pay as much as the hotel charges for the rooms which are claustrophobic chicken coups in order to have more places to accommodate the maximum No of visitors, How important it has become to know the right people and to work in the right place. What a shame.

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