Malta’s unique position makes it an ideal bridge to Europe for African businesses and high net worth individuals looking to expand their opportunities, says experienced barrister and business advisor Geraldine Noel, founder of award-winning Acumum Legal & Advisory. She spoke to Craig Sisterson.
Situated in the Mediterranean, “Malta is only four hours and nine minutes from Lagos,” notes Noel, who has three decades’ legal experience, has been a general counsel in Europe and North America, and is a six-time honouree on Citywealth’s prestigious list of most powerful and pioneering women globally in the financial services and private wealth industry.
“Malta is a bridge to European financing, it’s a Commonwealth jurisdiction – a rarity in the EU – and its laws are based on English law,” says Noel. “So, it gives comfort to investors and financiers in respect of investment injections into a holding company. Which, from then, can be deployed into the subsidiary, wherever that subsidiary may be in Africa.”
In 2012, Noel was working as Head of Legal at the Malta headquarters of GFI Software, shepherding two dozen subsidiaries to IPO level alongside other legal matters, when she was inspired to strike out and establish her own legal and business advisory firm.
“We were receiving some services and I thought ‘it could be done better, it could be done more efficiently’,” says Noel. “I believed that the work, the response time, the customer experience, could be done better than what I or other people were receiving.”
So, Noel left GFI and set up Acumum.
A key focus for her boutique group, which advises on corporate structuring and tax and helps with governance, company secretarial, trust, and immigration matters, is personalised service.
“We’re experts in personalised services, so I always maintain that we are not a supermarket, we are not into the volume or numbers game,” says Noel. “We assist our clients to achieve their objectives, whether personal such as family intergenerational wealth for instance, or tax efficiency with regards to their structures.”
Along with considerable corporate and tax expertise, Noel and Acumum have specialised skills in cross-border matters and the energy sector, and work with many African clients. Noel serves as a company secretary for some African oil and gas companies, and Acumum are accredited agents for Malta’s citizenship programme and residency and visa programme.
“We have a number of African clients who have attained Maltese citizenship or residency, which provides access to a Schengen visa,” says Noel. “Some clients don’t want to permanently reside in Malta, but particularly businesspeople want that ease of travel.”
Malta can be an ideal location and connection for African businesses and high net-worth individuals, says Noel, who, with her team at Acumum, looks to assist clients to make connections, protect their businesses and assets, and harness international opportunities.
“We are giving them options, options for them and their families,” says Noel. “Some of our clients are African businesspeople and we’ve not only structured their personal affairs but also their business affairs, and have provided them with a family office type of service.”
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