The Malta Independent 16 January 2018, Tuesday

Konrad Mizzi insists VGH and Steward have agreed sale; VGH says financial discussions still ongoing

Julian Bonnici Wednesday, 10 January 2018, 09:23 Last update: about 6 days ago

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, the minister responsible for Public and Private Partnerships, insisted that the agreement between Vitals Global Healthcare and Steward Health Care System has been reached, in spite of VGH telling The Malta Independent that they were “entertaining discussions” with the American healthcare company and that financial negotiations were still on-going.

“VGH have confirmed that an agreement has been signed between the two parties, and a transition period is currently on-going,” the minister said yesterday.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mizzi was responding to follow-up questions after he told the newsroom that the government was not at all involved in the commercial discussions between VGH and Steward.

“First of all, I wanted to highlight that government is not involved in commercial discussions between VGH and Steward. Government, or Cabinet, is involved in providing the consent for the transfer of shares in accordance with the concession agreement. The concession agreement stipulates that if there is a change in control, of over 50%, it would require approval from the shareholder, who in this case is the government,” he said.

“The government has obviously conducted its due diligence on Steward and has provided its consent for the transaction to happen.”

The Minister was then asked whether VGH actually wanted to sell its concession, after saying that they were “entertaining” the bid, or whether it was the government who were pushing the company out.

“As you’re aware, the press release has been issued from government, which highlighted the fact that an agreement had been reached between the owners of VGH and Steward,” he replied.

When told that both VGH officials and its spokesperson had indicated otherwise, Mizzi stuck to his original statement.

“I think the government statement is clear,” he said.

On Thursday 21 December, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that VGH, the company which was entrusted with the provision of healthcare services through the Gozo, Karin Grech and St Lukes hospitals, sold the 30-year concession only 21 months after securing a deal with the Maltese government.

However, since then VGH Medical Board member and employee Professor Albert Fenech has also informed the newsroom that all the staff within the three hospitals have been told that as of yet no agreement had been reached.

When confronted with this information, and asked specifically whether he or VGH were incorrect, Mizzi told the newsroom to refer to “please refer to the government statement.”

If the Minister is correct in that an agreement has been reached, it begs the question as to why the public is still unaware of the price of the sale of the concession, and why VGH would claim otherwise and say that discussions were still on-going.

 

  • don't miss