Category Archives: Cover Story

INTEGRITY, ETHICS AND RESILIENCE

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Andre’ Muscat from SHIELD Consultants Ltd. has recently finished his studies in Fire Engineering at the University of Central Lancashire. We discuss with him what this interesting field, what it means in practice and how it is impacting on the contemporary business, commercial and residential environments.

CORPORATE BRIEF: SHIELD Consultants Ltd specialise in providing operational risk management and consultancy training services, focusing mainly on high-risk market segments in the Mediterranean, Middle East, Gulf Region and Africa. The company also specialises in maritime security; critical national infrastructures and Oil & Gas. SHIELD combines operational with technology in bringing innovation into all functional elements of operational risk management – Security; Maritime Security; HSE; Business Continuity Management; Fire & Safety; Crisis Management and Emergency Response, as well as Quality Risk Management.

MBR: What is Fire Engineering and how does it differ from traditional methods?

AM: Good question to start with. Fire Engineering refers to the application of scientific and engineering principles to the design of a building.   The purpose is to protect people, property and the environment from the effects of fire and smoke.  In short, FE is about prevention and controlling the effects of fire to mitigate damages.

MBR: How does fire engineering defer from standard approaches and what are the benefits of such solutions? 

AM: Standard approaches normally rely on prescriptive codes and guidelines that specify solutions to a particular type of building. This might be very well applicable in most cases, but in some situations these standards might prove to be constraining or simply not applicable. In these cases an engineered solution allows for a level of fire safety to be maintained, even if conventional standards cannot be meet. 

This would require a tailored solution for the particular building type, size, and function and would not force the application of any set standard but would rather focus on achieving the final required result.  We at SHIELD specialise in this proactive approach to fire prevention and control.

MBR: Can fire engineering be applicable only for new constructions or can some principles be applied to existent buildings?

AM: No. Fire Engineering solutions can also be applied to existing buildings in order to improve or maintain the fire safety of the building, especially if the use of the building is going to change from what it was originally designed for, or if the age of the building is such that no prescriptive methods can be applied to it.

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MBR: In your studies you focused on the effects of ageing and wear of fire protection in buildings. What where your main findings?

AM: Yes, my final study regarded a particular aspect of fire safety within buildings that is very often overlooked. This is the part called Passive Fire Protection (PFP). These include techniques and applications such as compartmentation walls and fire doors, amongst others. To an observer who is not well versed in fire engineering solutions, these parts of a building might not appear to serve an important role in the fire safety of the building. This could lead to certain changes being made to the building, resulting in deterioration in structures, without essential fire mitigation and control.

The studies focused on the primary documented reasons for failure in PFP and through experiments in a fire testing laboratory and also by using a specialised computer simulation programme, it was observed that small gaps around doors did not have severely impact safety conditions of the escape route. However, as soon as these gaps are widened slightly, environmental conditions in terms of smoke and heat start to pose a threat to life quite quickly.

MBR: What are the most common damages sustained by Passive Fire Protection systems within buildings?

AM: Some of these damages simply occur due to the passage of time and the wear and tear that components sustain. These include fire doors sagging and not being able to close well into their frame, or intumescent strips (material that expands when heat is applied) that are fitted around fire doors that become damaged due to abrasion over time.

Other damages are sustained to the changes in the building that the occupants carry out on them. These would not normally be carried out while knowingly damaging the building, but simply because the building users would not recognise the problem in effecting such changes. These can include, drilling holes through walls to facilitate the passage of services, changing fire doors to a non-fire rated door, or removing a door altogether. Sometimes spaces that are normally unseen, such as above soffits or through ventilation ducting, might be left unprotected simply because they are forgotten and are left free to allow the passage of smoke and heat.

MBR: Do you think that recent fire incidents overseas will leave an effect on the current fire safety regulations?

AM: The latest great fire that the world has suffered took place just over a year ago in the UK. The incident at Grenfell Tower will not only leave an effect in the UK but has reverberated throughout the entire fire safety industry worldwide.

The rapidity, intensity and extent to which the fire spread and the effects that it had, took many by surprise and due to this incident many failing factors that were being overlooked have been brought to light. In the UK the investigation that is currently being concluded will be leading to a considerable change in how fire safety is regulated.

Apart from the Grenfell incident, there have been other big fires that left its effect on the industry such as the fire at Club Collective in Bucharest, Romania that killed 64 and injured 147. However no other incident has left as big an effect as the Grenfell fire.

MBR: What sort of problems do you come across most commonly in terms of fire safety within buildings?

AM: Building occupants, including management, not understanding the importance of fire safety in their building, thinking that small changes do not matter, and the overall notion that it will never happen to them. At times, als thinking that having lots of fire extinguishers makes the building safer, something I would find very funny, were it not such a serious issue.

Sometimes building owners do not know what is installed in their building, especially when they were not the original building users or when the building has been taken care of by multiple entities through the years.

At SHIELD, we normally find that most problems are in fact not engineering problems but managerial problems. And these would also not be because the management does not care but because they do not understand the importance of some of the issues.

Many times, people would worry if they are meeting legal requirements. What I try to explain is that legal requirements stop at having the occupants getting out safety. But if the building sustains a substantial fire of damage business continuity would be severely disrupted and recovery would be so much harder.

All rights reserved – Copyright 2018

 

Making Investments Easy

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Exclusive interview with Sergey Vasin, Chief Operating Officer of Blackmoon, a  Blockchain FinTech company, and the creators of the only operational blockchain investment platform, who are expanding into Malta.

MBR: I want to kick off first with Blockchain Fintech, since you have just announced your expansion into Malta. What are the big trends for you in this space and what is significant about your choice to position your growth strategies in Malta?

SV: We selected Malta after rigorous research of the proposed regulations in a number of European countries. The Maltese regulator really impressed us with their proactive approach. We had a very positive preliminary meeting, where the MFSA representatives asked very deep questions about our business model and value propositions. It went extremely well and we decided to choose Malta as a go-to jurisdiction.

Blackmoon understands that the blockchain technology could bring its promise of enhanced liquidity, transparency and price discovery only in close collaboration with the regulators like the MFSA.

I believe that the promise of blockchain technology is the biggest trend in the financial space. It is the first time in history that the financial system could switch from competitive mode to the sharing of common resources. Blockchain provides the technology, as a shared database, to scale and distribute the required standardizations for industry associations. This will enable financial institutions to become inclusive and offer their clients products issued by other sellers.

MBR: Can you tell us about your role and what is Blackmoon?

SV: Blackmoon’s mission is to make innovative investments easily tradable for all.

MBR: I have been with Blackmoon since 2014. As COO, I’m responsible for the operational activity of the company with a focus on developing new products and the platform functionality. These products and platform functionalities allow investors to access investment opportunities that were previously inaccessible: from real estate lending hedge funds to algorithmic trading in cryptocurrencies.

SV: Our platform unlocks liquidity for these investments. The tradability in the secondary market improves price discovery, transparency and mitigates the overall risk in the financial system. With compliance at our heart, we strive to offer our services to a wider range of investors. For asset managers, Blackmoon is a turnkey solution to increase their assets under management with a reliable distribution channel like our platform.

MBR: What are the major features and services provided by Blackmoon?

SV: There are three pillars of Blackmoon as a fintech group: Issuer, Technology Provider and Sales Channel. 

As an Issuer, we issue our own investment products. As a Technological Provider, we apply blockchain technology and provide tokenization infrastructure for third-party issuers. Finally, as a Sales Channel, we distribute products to verified investors and provide secondary liquidity on issued instruments. Our strategy is to develop an end-to-end platform for innovative financial instruments that makes investments easy, accessible and liquid to all.

MBR: Can you describe what is the technology behind Blackmoon?

SV: Blackmoon as a technology provider uses the blockchain technology to manage tokenization infrastructure for the issuers. This infrastructure enables value transfer between participants while keeping the ecosystem open. That means that a Token issued in one place can travel across whitelisted sales channels. The technology is easy to use, customizable and failure-resistant due to the distributed ledger. The lifecycle of the token includes creation, distributed custody, and clearing, verification, trade, and redemption. This technological layer creates unparalleled opportunities to get access to a wider user base via multiple Brokers or other sales channels. Blackmoon provides a turn-key solution as it includes not only technological but a legal framework for that.

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MBR: With the MiFid II license, what promise to the investors to build a legally compliant framework for its services does Blackmoon fulfil?

SV: We understand the importance of regulation. That’s why we already apply strict KYC and AML procedures. The Category 3 Investment Services Licence issued by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) that we applied for (and made significant progress with) will enable Blackmoon as a distribution channel to offer our products to the broader audience of the investors. 

MBR: How does Blackmoon intend to add further plans to strengthen its regulatory stance?

SV: Blackmoon’s further regulatory milestones are entering the MFSA Virtual Financial Assets (VFA) sandbox and applying for a licence as soon as the regulation is enacted. On the other side of the ocean the Blackmoon group works on the REG D and REG S offerings to enter the US market targeting both investors and issuers respectively. This diligent approach and proactive cooperation with the regulatory bodies is the only way to build a scalable and reliable company.

MBR: What can you tell our readers about the release of Blackmoon’s Prime Meridian Capital token (BMxPMR), announced last week, how does it work and how can we invest in it?

SV: The release of this token is an important milestone for us. With this seventh asset on our platform, we provide investors with the opportunity to get access to the performance of the leading US hedge fund managers with $700 million in assets under management. To get access to this opportunity, investors should pass KYC. This includes not only the identity check but an appropriateness test as well. Once verified, a potential investor gets access to the dedicated interface with the information on the strategy and historical performance.

MBR: What is the market size of the Blockchain Fintech industry and how do you intend to capitalise on this market with the launch of your new offices in Malta?

SV: Since our solutions cover the needs of the entire asset management industry, Blackmoon is in a multi-trillion dollar market, as Asset Managers benefit from not having to deal with multiple investors and most importantly, from the secondary market liquidity provided by our platform. With our launch in Malta, we enable investors to onboard with Blackmoon to diversify their portfolios with innovative investment products featuring various risk and return profiles

MBR: How safe is Blackmoon, would you like to talk about your legal and security measures?

SV: Our current procedures are already based on ESMA and MiFID requirements and we are looking forward to providing users with a fully licensed entry point. We perform in-house customer onboarding with PEP and Sanctions screening and perform KYC and AML in cooperation with some of the world’s most credible risk intelligence data providers. Furthermore, we do assessments on all our third-party suppliers to ensure their credibility and reliability.

From a security standpoint, we use two-factor authentication and prompt our clients to do so, cold storages and multi-signature wallets, a unique pool of addresses and partner with the leading provider in cyber security, to name some measures.

MBR: What is next on the Blackmoon roadmap and where do you see the business in two years in Malta?

SV: The next big milestones on our roadmap are the public launch of the secondary market and the first completed equity offering (also known as STO) on the platform. In the meantime, Blackmoon will keep on adding new investment opportunities to the platform. In the next several years I see Blackmoon becoming the go-to solution for investors to get access to the innovative investment opportunities.

Without getting into details, we can reveal that our strategy will be segregated into retail and institutional. For the retail segment, we plan to be a more support/assistant role for our clients nurturing the lasting relationship. Institutional sales have a longer cycle. We have already set up this division and have made significant progress. Blackmoon is open for cooperation with new and existing companies to make the promise of the Blockchain to investment world a reality.

Editor’s Note:

Mr. Sergey Vasin is an investment and operations professional with SEVEN years experience in start-ups, venture capital, and investment banking. As COO at Blackmoon, he is responsible for the operational activity of the company with a focus on developing new products and managing internal processes.As the investment director at Flint Capital, Mr. Vasin was responsible for the execution of the deals and operational supervision of the portfolio companies with a focus on the fintech sector. Prior to that, he had a 3-year experience in investment banking. Mr. Vasin is a CFA charter holder. He graduated from the Higher School of Economics and holds a MS degree in Quantitative Economics

Risk warning:

Due to the fact that cryptocurrency markets are unregulated and decentralized, the provision of our services is not governed by any specific regulatory framework or investor protection rules. Investment in cryptocurrencies carries high degree of risk and volatility and is not suitable for every investor; therefore, you should not risk the capital you cannot afford to lose. Please consult an independent professional financial or legal advisor to ensure the product meets your objectives before you decide to invest. Under no circumstances shall Blackmoon have any liability to any person or entity for (a) any loss or damage in whole or part caused by, resulting from, or relating to any transactions related to the asset tokens or (b) any direct, indirect, special, consequential or incidental damages whatsoever. Please consider our Risk Disclosure and our Terms of Use before using our products. Social media posts about Blackmoon platform are generated by members of Blackmoon community and do not contain advice, recommendations or solicitation on behalf of Blackmoon. You are not permitted to use, alter or reproduce or distribute any of Blackmoon images and/or content, including but not limited to text, graphics, video, audio, software code, interface design or logos without our prior written consent. 

All rights reserved © – Blackmoon Financial Group 2018

Re-evaluate, create, be different, and open for all 

 

Photo: Mark Soler @msfotography. All Rights Reserved

Frank Grima’s career has been interesting because he always wanted to learn all the aspects of the restaurant business. “You definitely have to have grease (passion) in your veins to survive,” confirms the veteran businessman and visionary behind City Lounge Diner and Teatru Café. Grima’s mantra has been “Go for it” and “don’t be afraid”. Frank insists that, “If you believe in yourself you can do anything. Dream big, why not, it’s your life. The more you connect with people the more exciting the dream becomes.”MBR had a chance to interview the old-time business impresario about the challenge of being a restaurant owner and manager in the buzzing capital of Valletta, how to always try to make your business better, and being the best you can.

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Leaders in Luxury Real Estate

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MBR interviews Michael Hili, Managing Director with John Taylor Luxury Real Estate, who discusses high net worth luxury real estate, talent management, expertise, commitment and high quality of service
MBR: Could you explain how you came to be involved with high net worth luxury real estate and what inspired you to focus on that sector?

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Interview with Colin Gregory, Managing Director, and Edward Saliba, Director at Equiom Malta

TFGX1172Colin Gregory, Managing Director of Equiom Malta explains what this acquisition means to Equiom. Edward Saliba, previously a Director and Head of Corporate Services at DF Corporate and now part of Equiom Malta, discusses the integration process from his perspective and the benefits it has brought to his team and clients.

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