Moving to Malta from his native Sweden in 2013, Lahcene Merzoug already had several successful businesses to his name before being appointed CEO of online gaming-focused PressEnter Group in 2021. In November last year, it was announced that PressEnter Group will undertake a management buyout, with Lahcene appointed Executive Chairman of the Board, marking a new and exciting chapter for the company and Lahcene alike.
It’s been 10 years since Lahcene, his fiancée and two friends settled in Malta, intent on a change in lifestyle. “I had just sold my company in Sweden, and we were looking for a place with a little more sunshine,” he smiles.
Since then, the climate has continued to factor into his love for the island, although it wasn’t until COVID-19 came along, he admits, that Lahcene really began to appreciate Malta’s distinct landscape. “There wasn’t much to do, and travel wasn’t an option, so I was out hiking every weekend. There are a few gems out there, and I discovered some fantastic spots, like Fomm ir-Rih, which is one of my favourites.”
From a business point of view, his experience has been similarly positive. Entering the gaming sector upon his move to Malta, Lahcene describes the local industry as a strong one. “We have a Regulator that talks to the industry, which isn’t the case in all countries; and we have what is arguably the biggest hub of talent in the world for our industry.”
On the flip side, Lahcene is also cognisant of the challenges that exist, particularly for smaller start-ups, including issues with paperwork and a lack of digitalisation, difficulties around opening business bank accounts, and housing. “Within our industry, one of the biggest challenges is housing for our staff. Housing is very expensive, particularly for junior staff,” he shares.
All things considered, however, Lahcene’s outlook for business and economic sentiment on the island is positive, and he considers it “a good investment climate at the moment.” Sharing his advice to fellow expats seeking to invest in Malta, he advises against speculative investments if you don’t have the right risk profile, but overall believes “it’s a good time to invest in the island.
PressEnter Group Executive Chairman Lahcene Merzoug / Photo by Bernard Polidano
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