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The CEO of Chimimport Ivo Kamenov with an exclusive interview for TIME Magazine

Author Chimimport
The CEO of Chimimport Ivo Kamenov with an exclusive interview for TIME Magazine

In the dynamic world of business, visionary leaders are the driving force behind success stories. It is one such story that TIME magazine tells on its pages in its May 2024 issue. The magazine directs its focus to Chimimport, one of the most famous Bulgarian conglomerates, and its executive director and member of the Management Board, Ivo Kamenov. 

"Ivo Kamenov and Chimimport - a look at the sustainable future" - this is the title of the TIME magazine article, which describes in detail the history of the public holding, its corporate management and its importance in the region.

“Bulgaria’s rapid transition from a predominantly agricultural nation to a diversified modern market economy has been a remarkable achievement. Today Bulgaria is a progressive industrialised country with the strongest currency in Eastern Europe. The private sector accounts for more than 80% of national GDP and that economic prosperity owes much to conglomerates such as Chimimport who have played a key role in changing the industrial landscape of the country”, notes TIME Magazine.

What the CEO and member of the Management Board of Chimimport Ivo Kamenov said to TIME and what is in the pipeline for Chimimport – read the whole article HERE or below:

Bulgaria’s rapid transition from a predominantly agricultural nation to a diversified modern market economy has been a remarkable achievement. Today Bulgaria is a progressive industrialized country with the strongest currency in Eastern Europe. The private sector accounts for more than 80% of national GDP and that economic prosperity owes much to conglomerates such as Chimimport who have played a key role in changing the industrial landscape of the country.

Chimimport is currently valued at over $5.5 billion with annual profits approaching $40 million. Incorporated in 1990 and charged with managing more than 40 enterprises, Chimimport establishes a presence in every significant sector of the Bulgarian economy ranging from finance, oil, gas and petrochemicals to the trading of chemicals, fertilizers and agricultural commodities, as well as aviation, river and maritime transport.

Thanks to this diverse range of activities, Chimimport is not only one of Bulgaria’s leading holding companies but in many ways a reflection of the country’s growth and economic diversification. The company’s status echoes Bulgaria’s growing international reach with a presence in the Slovakia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Germany and other major countries in Western and Eastern Europe.

“We have grown into one of the largest companies in the country,” says CEO Ivo Kamenov, who is also one of Bulgaria’s most successful businessmen with an impressive track record in several sectors where Chimimport now flourishes. “Thanks to our policy of minimizing our risk exposure and focussing on both efficiency and profitability we have consistently delivered outstanding results”. Chimimport’s most recent trading figures endorse this claim, with 2022 profits from non-financial activities growing nearly 28% and annual income increasing almost 55%.

While these numbers are testimony to the ability of the management teams that Kamenov and the other CEOs of Chimimport have created, they also reflect the long-term wisdom behind the holding strategy. As far back as 1991, for instance, Chimimport became the first Bulgarian company to venture into the oil and gas sector through its Oil and Gas Exploration and Production subsidiary. That investment is now bearing fruit with surveys suggesting that Bulgaria's Han Asparuh hydrocarbon block in the Black Sea could have the potential to produce a total of 13 billion cubic metres of gas.

"We have state-of-the-art drilling equipment and we have developed a center to analyze the rock samples taken. We work in an absolute synergy - from exploration, sampling, analysis, and interpretation of results, to drilling and production of gas and oil," Kamenov explained to TIME magazine. He added that the gas and oil exploration and production industry in Bulgaria has been very well developed over the years.

As part of contributing to the country's food security, Chimimport acquired the grain and oilseed producers "Beck International" and "Grain Foods - Valchi Dol". "This is a structurally decisive and essential sector for the national economy, as our country ranks 11th in the world in grain production and exports. It is no coincidence that in 2009, Warren Buffett said that the way out of a crisis is through the availability of commodities and investment in land. It is the most important investment because it produces food," Kamenov says.

The vital importance of a modern transport infrastructure for Bulgaria’s ability to attract inward investment has always been vital. The company has also expanded into port management, vehicle repair, maintenance, and logistics, and it enjoys a leading position in several segments of the trade and manufacturing industries. While, Chimimport’s real-estate portfolio is also constantly expanding, with the current focus being on sports centres, shopping complexes and a growing network of industrial and logistic centres. 

Given Kamenov’s desire to keep the company constantly involved with the latest pioneering industries, it is no wonder that he now has his eyes set on AI and the development of Bulgaria’s sustainable energy infrastructure. Thanks to Chimimport’s existing business portfolio, the group finds itself in pole position to help others using AI to exponentially improve the productivity of sectors such as agriculture. Kamenov also has high hopes for the solar parks and the giant geothermal plant currently in the Chimimport pipeline.

"Our goal is to continue to make Bulgaria more attractive", he says. "We work with world-renowned companies, and together with them, we develop successful joint venture partnerships, attracting new partners and investors to the country," says the CEO.

With Ivo Kamenov at the helm, there is an ever-expanding horizon of opportunities and prospects to explore. We wait with curiosity to see them one by one.

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