Two major announcements were released today by Simonds Farsons Cisk plc. During a review meeting with stockbrokers and financial analysts about the recently announced financial results, the group’s chairman Mr Louis A Farrugia stated that planning applications were submitted to the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) today. This effectively commences the approval process for the development of the Farsons Business Park.
Furthermore, he said that the company has reviewed its group internal structures and is planning to hive off a number of properties from its core food and beverage business activities. These properties will eventually form part of a separate and distinct property-focused public limited liability company planned to be set up in 2017.
Farsons Business Park
The business park project is being designed by an international firm of architects, Ian Ritchie Architects Ltd, with the support of Maltese based engineers, TBA Periti, and assisted by a multi-disciplinary team of local and international experts and consultants.
The design aims to convert, rehabilitate and re-use the listed grade 2 old Mrieħel brewery including, but not limited to, the old brewhouse (*) and façade. All of these components are listed given their high quality, mostly unaltered, and special interest interiors all of which will be sensitively and professionally restored in line with the values and vision of the company.
Great care has been taken to retain the integral and unique aesthetic quality of the building and the surrounding built environment, while paying special attention not to compromise the important historical sight-line between Valletta and Mdina.
Professor Ian Ritchie CBE RA said that the development will celebrate Maltese industrial heritage and be an exemplary transformation of a magnificent listed ‘industrial’ building to provide outstanding contemporary workspace and public attraction. The design will introduce state-of-the-art environmental technologies for the cooling and heating of the buildings and set new green standards for workspace environments.
Farsons Business Park will be limited to five recessed floors and seven low density office blocks all of which will be intersected by generous courtyards inspired by the traditional character of Maltese palaces. The courtyard gardens will provide a tranquil and inspiring space and all office blocks will be connected to a multi-level carpark of over 700 car spaces as well as the old brewhouse through restored corridors and walkways which used to serve the old brewery. The site boundary wall will be removed so that the precincts of the project are accessible to the public.
The project is planned to commence in mid-2016 and will be completed by end 2020. When completed, this project is expected to result in an investment of the Group of over €40 million and will boast over 18,000 square metres of offices, more than 1,200 square metres of food and beverage areas, 800 square metres of a beer academy, visitor’s attraction and also a unique ‘Cisk Sky Bar’.
Creating a property-focused plc
In a planned effort to ensure the best use of the group’s property portfolio with a view to maximise shareholder value, Farsons is planning to hive off a number of properties from the core food and beverage business and group them into a separate and distinct property-focused public limited liability company.
The properties that are planned to be under this company include: the brewery façade, Trident House’ site at Marsa, the properties housing the franchised food businesses, and the properties being leased out to third parties.
The food and beverage business will retain the group’s core operational property assets such as the land and buildings at Mrieħel; the iconic old brewhouse (*), which shall be used to celebrate the heritage and culture of the brewery and its brands within the social and economic fabric of Malta and its communities; and other identified properties that are currently being used or may be used in the future by the food and beverage business.
The shareholders will benefit from this restructuring in a number of ways. These benefits include the separation of the trading performance and values of the fast moving consumer businesses from that of the longer term property business. Another benefit is the possibility, if thought desirable, of new strategic partners and investors possibly with specific property development expertise, to participate into all or part of the property group. The objective of this is to create enhanced value for the shareholder.
Currently, the board is also looking at a number of funding options to ensure adequate funding and appropriate levels of gearing, considering the substantial investment programme being envisaged in the beverage business and the Farsons Business Park.
A presentation on the Farsons Business Park and the proposed restructuring will be delivered to shareholders during the forthcoming Annual General Meeting, in June 2015.