Since 2009, the MeDirect Group has developed a diverse range of products and services aimed at the corporate community. Charles Cini and Evan Mohnani, who lead Corporate Banking (Mediterranean Bank) and Corporate Finance (Charts) respectively, spoke to The Business Observer about how their respective functions combine to offer business a seamless financing experience.
When Mediterranean Bank was acquired by Anacap Financial Partners in 2009, the new management team envisaged a bank operating on a much broader scale than it had been doing, catering for the retail and corporate markets alike. Acquiring Charts in 2010 and Volksbank in 2014 has enabled the MeDirect group to offer a complete corporate banking and financing service to the local business community.
“When I joined Mediterranean Bank in 2010, the corporate banking department consisted of just two of us. Today my team consists of 19 people and we’ve gone from offering a few banking accounts and payment services to the point where we now have a full service offering to our corporate customers including payments, foreign exchange, investment services and lending,” says Charles Cini.
In 2010, the Bank acquired a majority shareholding in Charts; one of the leading investment services firms in Malta with a strong reputation for raising bond financing. “We have been engaged in corporate finance since the inception of the Malta Stock Exchange 25 years ago and our corporate finance function principally involves raising capital for corporate clients through the issuance of listed securities such as bonds,” explains Evan Mohnani.
In the following three to four years, the Bank continued to grow substantially, looking to diversify into corporate lending, and the possibility to acquire Volksbank (Malta) in September 2014 proved opportune in this regard.
“When we acquired Volksbank we took over the bank’s existing lending book, and after an exercise to consolidate and align their operations to MedBank’s policies and procedures Volksbank was fully incorporated under the umbrella of our parent company, MeDirect Group. In the meantime we have continued to develop our lending operations supporting corporate projects valued at €1m and over and which meet our robust lending criteria,” says Mr Cini.
MedBank’s support to the local business community is not limited to the provision of business loans. The expert team at Charts is at hand to assist firms looking to raise equity and debt capital through the capital markets. “We have specialist knowledge of deal structures and project funding in various sectors including hospitality, food service, property and retail. Raising finance for corporate clients involves a wide range of considerations and comprises advising companies on aligning their business strategy with their financing requirements, assisting with the preparation and execution of a listing, and advising on regulatory issues and continuing listing operations. We are major players in sponsoring bond and equity listings on the Malta Stock Exchange and our focus is to continue to do an excellent job in our area of expertise,” says Mr Mohnani.
Clients of Mediterranean Bank and Charts (a.k.a. the MeDirect Group) also have a range of banking and investment services available to address companies’ needs in a holistic way. “We offer liquidity accounts, term deposits, overdrafts and current accounts for effective cash management and liquidity optimisation. Furthermore, we have recently upgraded our foreign exchange services by launching an online platform which allows customers to convert currencies using real time exchange rates. Thus our corporate customers are able to take direct control of their foreign exchange requirements, either by planning ahead and acquiring currencies when the rate is most advantageous to them or by making foreign currency payments directly from their euro account. We also offer investment services to local asset management companies, with the added benefit that such companies can utilise the brokerage and wealth management platform that we initially launched for our retail customers” says Mr Cini.
The Bank’s corporate offering is leveraging off the expertise developed on the retail side of the business, dating back to 2013 when the online trading and wealth management platforms were launched for retail customers in Malta and subsequently in Belgium under the MeDirect brand. “By leveraging on the technological and operational infrastructure of MeDirect, we are now in a position to offer securities execution and custody services to local investment management companies and other firms with an active treasury function. We will soon take a further step towards consolidating our brand under the MeDirect name” adds Mr Cini.Mediterranean Bank is currently in the process of relocating and consolidating its administration, technical and operational functions to their new premises at The Centre, Tigné Point, Sliema. As both the Corporate Banking and Charts teams prepare to start operating from these new premises from next Monday, November 20th, the two men agree that the relocation will serve to increase efficiency and interdepartmental cooperation. “Moving to the new office will enable us to meet the needs of the business, allowing our teams to collaborate more effectively whilst offering clients improved facilities,” concludes Mr Mohnani.