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ME invested €4m in digital games firm

Paul Taylor (left) from digital games company TRC and former ME chairman Alan Camilleri at the signing ceremony in November 2011. Photo: DOIPaul Taylor (left) from digital games company TRC and former ME chairman Alan Camilleri at the signing ceremony in November 2011. Photo: DOI

A 15 per cent stake in a digital games company that opened shop in Malta cost the government €4 million two years ago.

The value of the shareholding acquired by Malta Enterprise was never made public at the time but was released this week in the agency’s annual report for 2013.

In 2012, Malta Enterprise acquired a stake in TRC Family Entertainment, a digital games company, run by Chris Deering, the man credited with inventing the Playstation console.

The investment was touted as forming part of the government’s strategy to attract digital gaming companies to Malta. TRC moved its head office to Malta and Mr Deering was made special envoy on digital gaming.

The annual report noted that Malta Enterprise will this year be passing on the shareholding to Malta Government Investments, the administrator of the government’s investment portfolio.

The report tabled in Parliament this week showed that Malta Enterprise cut its losses drastically last year to €24,000, from a staggering €227,000 in 2012.

The annual report for 2013 showed that the better financial performance was achieved despite the government subvention being less than the previous year.

In 2013, Malta Enterprise received €5.4 million from the government to cover operating expenses, down from €6.1 million in 2012. However, the agency received more money to provide financial assistance to industry. The subvention to cover aid to industry increased to €9.2 million from €7.7 million.

The largest share of financial assistance, like previous years, was investment aid to the tune of €5.4 million that Malta Enterprise passed on to private businesses.

On the down side, funds used to bolster research and development in the private sector dropped to €48,000 from €100,000, but training aid to industry shot up to €650,000 in 2013 from nothing a year earlier.

Directors’ fees dropped to €51,000 from €81,000, as the agency saw a change of the guard in its top echelons after the March 2013 general election.

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