Interview for daily Blic: Miodrag Kostić, President of MK Group
AIK Bank has purchased Gorenjska banka as the media reported in the past period.
What was the motive for the purchase?
MK Group, headed by myself for 35 years, has a long tradition of successful business operations in the European Union, because over 50% of our export activities are being realized on this market. This acquisition represents our third division, i.e. banking has been introduced on the European map. This is another important confirmation of our legitimacy, high standards and the success of our business. In order to realize this acquisition, previously, we had to provide all necessary permits for the National Bank of Serbia, the European Central Bank and the Central Bank of Slovenia.
It is often the case that foreign banks are coming to Serbia, but it came as a surprise that a domestic bank made a step forward towards Europe for the first time and bought a European bank. However, if it is known that AIK Bank is the most profitable bank in Serbia and that the bank has been recognized as the best commercial bank in Serbia by the renowned British magazine “International Banker” for four years now, this step forward towards Europe is a logical follow-up of our business activities. MK Group sees this as a great success, not just for our company but for our entire country.
Would it be true to say that MK Group equals Miodrag Kostić?
No. MK Group is its 7000 employees.
In January, we’ve celebrated a great jubilee, 35 years of successful and sustainable business. I emphasize the sustainability, because, you will agree, it is unsustainable for a system of 75 companies, 7,000 employees and one billion eur of previous investments to achieve excellent results based on the decision of only one person.
I would like to remind you that we pay taxes and contributions in the amount of 109 million eur annually. We are co-operating with 30.000 subcontractors and we are the biggest agricultural exporter in Serbia for years. We cultivate 30,000 hectares of land and our annual transport of goods reaches seven million tonnes. We have three most efficient sugar factories (Sunoko). We are the leader in the meat industry (Carnex). We have 15 regional hotels, and our AIK Bank is the most profitable bank with almost 10 percent of the market share and the first domestic bank that has acquired one European bank – Gorenjska banka. Most importantly, MK Group emloyes 166 colleagues who are parents of three and more children (560 children in total). This is briefly MK Group. You will agree that this can not be achieved by one man.
How do you respond to rumors that you are not in the country, that you have retired and your health condition is unstable?
They are not true and I honestly do not care about them. I feel great and very satisfied with the success of MK Group and I do not allow anything to ruin this feeling.
On the other hand, I am often out of the country in Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Albania, Dubai, Cyprus, Ukaina and the Netherlands. I spend only part of my time in Serbia and I just try to practice at least three times a week and maintain a good fit.
I believe these rumors are the product of my absence from the Kopaonik Business Forum. Instead of me, my closest associates, in whom I have a lot of confidence, took part in the panels. Their appearance is part of a corporate communication strategy that aims at more public appearances of colleagues who are managing MK Group. We want to show that the largest domestic system is being led by responsible people who are experts in their professions. This shows that we have created a strong company that will last even longer than its owner. Everything else is speculation.
Do you ever think about retirement?
It depends on who defines a “retirement”. Speaking of the vision of MK Group, it is certain that I will never withdraw, and from the operational point of view, those responsibilities have long been in the hands of my team.
In addition, in the forthcoming period, I intend to further dedicate myself to philanthropy and investing my time and gained experience in the future generations of managers.
I would like to remind you that in the past five years MK Group has invested more than four million eur in over 500 socially responsible activities. We’ve built a Youth House at SOS Children’s Village in Kraljevo. We’ve founded a Magnet for Love Foundation which has collected 400,000 eur for the purchase of supporting equipment for the Children’s Hospital in Novi Sad with the support of numerous partners and the Provincial Government over the past three years. Our company has put the Parents’ House within the Endowment of Kostić family worth one million eur at the disposal of the “Institute for Health Care of Children and Youth of Vojvodina” for the needs of more humane treatment. For ten years now, we have been organizing winter holidays for the best students from Kosovo and Metohija in Kopaonik. This is just a part of our socially responsible activities, and I believe that the biggest ones are yet to come.