Joseph Gerada

Family businesses have long formed a vital part of Malta’s economy. The value of these businesses is not just one of profits and market share but of a legacy passed down through generations. Recognising their significance, the Family Business Office (FBO) was established with a clear mission, to ensure the smooth transition of local family businesses from one generation to the next. 

Yet, as every family working together knows, circumstances vary. Sometimes, the next generation may not be there to carry the torch, or they might have ambitions that diverge from the family path. In such moments, families and founders may wish to explore opportunities for exit strategies to ensure continuity of their businesses. 

To provide family businesses with a guiding hand in these circumstances, the FBO has strategically aligned itself with Transeo, a dynamic platform that bridges the gap between those seeking to buy and sell businesses. This endeavour involves private and public sector stakeholders such as merger and acquisition professionals, financial institutions, and government bodies, all coming together to create a comprehensive ecosystem for business transfers. 

Furthermore, Transeo regularly organises a deal club, where sale-side and buy-side offers are presented each month. These gatherings foster meaningful discussions, shedding light on the wealth of opportunities awaiting entrepreneurs. It’s an invaluable resource for those seeking to explore their options and make informed decisions about the future of their family businesses.

Joseph Gerada, regulator for the Family Business Office, highlights the importance of Transeo, saying, “In Malta, we are constrained by our borders, but Transeo opens doors to opportunities within the European Union and beyond. It’s about exploring new possibilities outside of Malta while simultaneously enhancing our local market. We aim to create conversations to inspire policies that facilitate business transfers, removing red tape and ensuring the future of family businesses that would otherwise disappear.”

Now, as part of the upcoming SME Week in Malta this October, the FBO is gearing up to host the Transeo Winter Summit on 12-13th October at the Grand Hotel Excelsior in Valletta. This event marks a significant step in addressing the crucial issue of family business transfers, a topic that has been on the agenda since Malta’s EU presidency discussions back in 2017.

During the two-day summit, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and family businesses will have a unique opportunity to educate themselves on vital aspects of business transfers while forging valuable connections within the industry. The event promises to be a knowledge-sharing extravaganza with esteemed guests, including Minister for Environment, Energy, and Enterprise, Miriam Dalli. In addition, attendees can look forward to insightful keynote speeches from industry professionals such as Mark Jacobs, Karl Adams, and others, further enriching the dialogue surrounding the sale and acquisition of businesses in Malta.

“This summit is undoubtedly going to be a unique and insightful experience. I strongly encourage entrepreneurs to attend and embrace the opportunity to learn from professionals and each other. Family businesses can sometimes become rather insular, but the truth is, there’s an abundance of wisdom to be shared among them. Over the years, I have discovered that many families, in Malta and overseas, continue to grapple with similar issues. There’s an immense wealth of knowledge to gain when we lend an ear to fellow family business owners. They offer invaluable insights and specific strategies born from real-world experiences,” Dr Gerada explains. 

Summit attendees will also have the chance to participate in two pivotal networking occasions over breakfast and dinner events. These gatherings provide the perfect setting for local entrepreneurs to connect with their international counterparts.

“As any entrepreneur knows, networking is everything. These events at the Transeo Summit are an opportunity not to be missed, a chance to engage in conversations and expand your network. You never know what opportunities may arise from a simple conversation,” Dr Gerada adds.

The FBO is no stranger to providing incentives and subsidies to assist family businesses. In line with this commitment, the regulatory office is extending its support to the Transeo Winter Summit by offering subsidized registration fees. Members can benefit from a special rate of €140 euros for both days, which includes the breakfast and the networking dinner. Those who can’t attend both days are encouraged to join on the Friday for a nominal fee of €50. 

Beyond the Transeo Winter Summit, Dr Gerada re-emphasizes the FBO’s commitment to helping family businesses. One of their most popular incentives is a reduced rate on the duty tax when a business is transferred to other family members. Additionally, there are incentives subsidized through Malta Enterprise to help family businesses plan their succession. Over a period of three years, they can currently claim up to €15,000 on professional consultancy.

Dr Gerada states, “We are working to issue new incentives to build on this, increasing certain caps to make it more enticing. As the FBO, we are regulatory, and as such do not provide consultancy ourselves, but we are here to facilitate these transitions and ensure family businesses benefit from professional assistance. It’s important for family businesses to understand that, whether they are looking towards succession planning or exit strategies, this is not something that can be resolved in one meeting; it takes time and is a sensitive process. That’s why it’s important that they choose the right consultant who they can trust to lead them through this process and ensure continuity.”

As plans for the summit take shape, Dr Gerada offers a final encouragement to family businesses to participate in the Transeo Winter Summit. He adds, “Feel free to reach out to me personally during the event. I am here to better understand your circumstances and provide guidance. All in all, the summit promises to be a pivotal moment for family businesses, offering them a platform to explore new possibilities, share experiences, and chart a course toward a prosperous future.”

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