Allied Group is bleeding heavily and but some interests are holding it back

The Allied Group which publishes the Times of Malta is now becoming a property investment company as it strives to turn around its miserable financial situation. Its core operations are bleeding heavy losses so that is why it is trying to make revenue from other sources, particularly with its property portfolio.

Before you get any ideas, I am not in some way or another taking a side in favor of any particular faction in the Allied Group’s and Strickland Foundation’s board. There’s a long ongoing dispute over the inheritance and ownership of The Allied Group and I am not interested in picking a side or another in that dispute. I think they are also all ridiculous. What is interesting to me is that The Allied Group has been wrecked by the incompetence and corruption of its board members and previous CEO, and the company hasn’t made any drastic changes, yet. Even despite the fact that some of the board directors had serious conflicts of interest and very suspicious connections and dealings, they remained on the board of Allied Group while the company kept bleedings millions of Euros. Anyone can take a look at their publicly-filed financials to see the total wreck that Allied is in.

It’s incredible how the shareholders of the company don’t have a problem with people like Austin Bencini remaining on the board when he had a close connection with Keith Schembri who together attended the wedding of Pilatus Bank Chairman Ali Sadr. Keith Schembri caused the Allied Group and its printing subsidiary Progress Press, millions of Euros in losses in a corrupt printing0machienry deal with the then disgraced CEO Adrian Hillman. His wife, Juanita Bencini who worked at KPMG helped Pilatus Bank gets its Maltese license under Joseph Muscat’s administration. Apparently, there are some people in this country that whatever they do they are always innocent, maybe because they “never knew” and “they were too naive”, yet this privilege is not bestowed upon us ordinary mortals.

Vincent Buhagiar, the previous managing director of Allied, Vincent Buhagiar was forced to resign along with Hillman, but Michael Rizzo who was also arraigned over the corrupt printing-machinery-deal conjured by Adrian Hillman and Keith Schembri was promoted as CEO and even as a director.

I have met Michael Rizzo in a professional setting in my life, and I will bite the bullet when I say that I don’t suspect he was participatory to Adrian Hillman’s and Keith Schembri’s deal (although I may be proved wrong) and having him promoted may also have something to do with the fact that he didn’t have any part of it. The fact remains, however, that Michael Rizzo as chief operations officer could have foreseen that the deal was bad, Austin Bencini as a director like the others should have seen the risks and the fraud of Adrian Hillman’s deal (he pretends he is very intelligent, after all), yet, these people not only did not prevent the fraudulent deal from taking place, they have also taken the core operations of the business to the ground as the accounts can attest.

The Times of Malta is a legacy product of a time when publishing was easier and more lucrative. The directors at the Times are anything but familiar with the modern exigencies of publishing. Although there is no other choice for the group to find alternative sources of revenue, it can not do so by ignoring its core business which clearly is not doing very well. The people running and directing the company right now are clearly not giving spectacular results, and the future doesn’t like bright.


  1. If either of the flagships (yes both of them is what they are) folds, it’ll be one of the saddest days in Malta’s journalism.

    Sadder than when IL-BERQA suffered the same fate.

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