Malta Stock Exchange (MSE) Executive Chairman Joseph Portelli has said that when he took the helm of the stock exchange in 2015, he was determined to transform it to mirror its North American counterpart, the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (Nasdaq).
Mr Portelli was speaking during an interview in the Family Business Forum, an event which was co-hosted by Ganado Advocates and Zampa Debattista last week. The forum saw various professionals and governance specialists come together to discuss different perspectives on how important strong governance is when it comes to establishing value for family businesses.
Ganado Advocates Managing Partner André Zerafa, who was conducting the interview, asked Mr Portelli how the MSE has changed since he joined in 2013, and particularly since he was appointed Executive Chairman in 2015.
MSE Executive Chairman Joseph Portelli (left) and Ganado Advocates Managing Partner André Zerafa (right) during the interview / Rene Rossignaud
“When I became Executive Chairman, my first instinct was: What can I do to make MSE look as much like Nasdaq as I can?” Prior to that, it looked like a small local stock exchange,” Mr Portelli said.
Nasdaq is a North American stock exchange that is based in New York City, and it is deemed as the most active stock trading venue in the United States by volume. It has more than 3,300 company listings and carries out approximately 1.8 billion trades per day.
He remarked that in terms of services and operations, the team at MSE “has been successful”, as it now offers “the same exact services as Nasdaq”.
“What we did was we created a plan of 23 points and on top of that we wanted to modernise and institutionalise exchange. We extended trading, we created indices, and much more,” Mr Portelli explained.
“Everything Nasdaq does, we do as well. Today, if we look at where we are, our listings have increased, contrary to lots of listings abroad,” he added.
Dr Zerafa then shifted the conversation more towards family businesses, asking Mr Portelli what benefits the MSE provides family-owned businesses, particularly in terms of raising finance.
“I like comparing the MSE to three economies which are the wealthiest per capita: Luxembourg, Ireland, and Qatar. The MSE has 109 local companies, more than each one,” Mr Portelli said.
He added that the credit has to go to the local ecosystem which “works very well” and overall has done a “great job” in attracting local companies to list.
Turning to what the MSE can offer family businesses, Mr Portelli said that such businesses have to first ask themselves whether someone wants to buy their equity or bond.
“Nobody’s going to buy it if your financials aren’t good,” he stressed.
He also remarked that if a company is listed, it is also “easier to attract customers”, as they know that the company is regulated.
Mr Portelli added that there are plenty of misconceptions about the MSE, particularly in terms of the role it serves.
“We’re not an authority or a regulator. Our job is to make sure we have a trading platform where people can exchange capital,” he said.
MSE Executive Chairman Joseph Portelli / LinkedIn