The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has decided to assign the concession to develop the iconic Evans Building in lower Valletta to Valletta Luxury Projects – a consortium formed between the Decasares of the Eden Leisure Group and Mark Weingard of the Iniala Hotel.
The decision in favour of the two hotelier companies surprised the other bidders because, according to a contracts department notice, the selected bid had the lowest financial bid out of all participants.
At just €1.2 million for the 65-year concession, Valletta Luxury Projects had by far the lowest bid in comparison to the €40.7 million offered by Paul Attard of Katari Hospitality and €39.3 million submitted by Iconic Malta Ltd and Nobu – the internationally acclaimed hotel chain.
Still, the OPM decided to award the concession to the Decesare/Weingard, widely predicted and rumoured to be the favourites for the project, even before the tender was issued.
While the list of bids published by the Contracts Department placed the ‘winning’ offer as the one with the lowest financial bid, Valletta Luxury Projects had insisted, through an article in Malta Today, that its bid was the highest as the amount listed by the contracts department was per year and not in total.
They explained that their concession was €78 million (€1.2 million a year for 65 years) and not as listed by the contracts department.
On its part, neither the OPM nor the Contracts Department issued any correction to their official declaration.
The Shift reported that while the other consortia have insisted that the Decesare/Weinguard consortium should be disqualified from the bid, as their offer was not presented according to the rules, the prime minster was warned that a legal battle would erupt if he continued to push forward the Decesare/Wiengard offer, as was common knowledge among industry insiders.
According to the original Request for Proposals rules, “in case of any discrepancy between the information provided in the Financial Bid Form and the total in the tender response format, the latter shall prevail.”
Objectors now have a limited time window to file a challenge to the OPM’s controversial decision.