‘Are Maltese businesses ready for ESG investing?’

Ms Denise Micallef Xuereb, Construction and Development Director at AX Group sheds light on this question during her engagement in a webinar by BOV.


The Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) credentials of companies are becoming more important in the corporate world. EU wide regulation is increasingly pointing towards making bank lending and capital markets’ financing much easier for those businesses which have a sustainable investing mind-set.


On Thursday 23rd July, BOV hosted a webinar, with a number of speakers, including Denise Micallef Xuereb, our Construction and Development Director at AX Group. The discussion was led by Mark Scicluna Bartoli, an advisor to the EU Commission and United Nations on access to finance and the environment, and the webinar tackled a number of questions including investments, how local authorities are supporting businesses and institutional investors.


AX Group has recently placed a considerable investment in photovoltaic energy. Denise Micallef Xuereb claims that ‘AX Group has always been known for long term investments, for being visionary and market leaders in the area. However, this time around, with our recent project, we decided to focus heavily on the environment’. The location where the power plant is located was a quarry spreading over 90,000 square meters of land. The land was an eyesore and it was later used as a landfill for construction and demolition of waste. ‘As a company, we strongly believe to partner up with experts in the field, hence why AX Group has jointly invested with its long-standing partner PX Lettings and with a specialised provider, Solar Solutions for this project’.


Denise goes on to say that ‘for the past 10 years, we were thinking of what to do when the landfill was taken up completely. We decided that we wanted to invest in our environment and give something back to the community. In fact, 30,000 square meters is dedicated to the plantation of trees and pathways. The solar plants can power energy of up to 2,200 homes. These kinds of projects take vision, determination and stamina since there could be other opportunities that are faster. However, this approach fits in our strategy to invest in the long term. Thanks to COVID-19 (because there are always opportunities with complications), we have re-visited a number of projects in the pipeline. I believe that we should not simply be compliant but it is our duty to give open spaces back to the community’.


This kind of long-term investment is not easy to materialise and there is more risk in investing in sustainable projects. ‘This makes it easier for people to be discouraged and go for easier routes. I believe that is where institutions and governments need to come in to help companies who come up with innovative ideas’.


The discussion then took a focus on governance. Denise claims that primarily the company was a one-man-band. ‘Throughout the years, we developed into a group of company set-up and our CEO is a non-family member. We have a number of external boards and, as a family, we got accustomed to it and we realise that we have a responsibility to our employees and our suppliers’.


As a final note to conclude this webinar, Denise makes her stance on transparency. ‘I believe that development and environment can complement each other if done well. We need to introduce sensitivity. The social aspect is extremely important. We don’t need to wait for policies to engage with the community and be sensitive to our surroundings’.

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