The first two companies have listed on the Malta Stock Exchange through the Prospects platform, launched a year ago to offer a cost-effective option for SMEs.

The Times of Malta reported a few weeks ago that an Italian company, SFA SpA, was to become the first company approved through Prospects. Since then a Maltese company, IG Finance, was approved in just four days and was also listed yesterday.

SFA, an SME working in the environmental sector, was brought to the exchange through an Italian corporate adviser, Demetra, among the first foreign entities to recognise the platform’s potential. Managing director Tonio Alferi said that his company, like the exchange, was celebrating its 25th year.

READ: Italian firm becomes Prospects' first listing

“Maybe this is a coincidence, but I prefer to think of it as auspicious,” he said before the traditional bell-ringing that marked the occasion. SFA will be listing 700,000 shares on Prospects.

IG Finance has launched a €3.7 million unsecured bond with a coupon rate of 5.5 per cent. The family company was founded 21 years ago and over the years has internationalised, exporting high-value-added products. Managing director Anton Borg said that at some stage, every family business needed to think about the future. “We needed to take the company to a new level and saw Prospects as the right opportunity,” he said.

Prospects was launched in February 2016 to offer a cost-effective alternative source of financing to SMEs that need to raise between €1 million and €5 million. The admission process has a lighter regulatory structure and the cost to come to market is also lower.

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said: “It takes a small country to understand small businesses.

“SMEs have found a niche whereby they seek credit in a regulated structure with high standards and low costs, and where bureaucracy is heavily reduced.”

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