• Our People in the Media15. 11. 2017Jiří Jelínek Interview to Hospodářské noviny

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    HN: Looking at the results, has this season been the best ever?

    Indeed, we've registered record-high figures as regards sales, expected profit, and the number of customers. Our revenues will be in excess of five billion crowns, which means that our income this year will be one billion crowns higher than in 2016. EBITDA, which includes earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, will be in excess of 200 million crowns, while we earned about 88 million last year.

    In my view, our greatest accomplishment is the fact that we have grown in all three main product segments. The highest growth, by as much as 40%, was recorded in the segment of Mediterranean holiday packages. Overall, I would estimate that the entire market grew 15-20% in this segment. Likewise, the segment of trips to exotic destinations gas grown by tens of percentage points year-over-year. Revenues from skiing packages sold under the Nev-Dama brand have grown by 10% as well. In total, 360,000 customers will have traveled with us in the course of this year.

    HN: How many Czechs have used the services of all domestic travel agencies to fly to seaside destinations this year?

    I think that it could be some 850,000 people. This year, revenues received by travel agencies from the sale of foreign trips will range between 20 and 23 billion crowns, including bus trips and packages where customers use their own means of transport. Vacation packages with air travel organized by Czech travel agencies account for approximately 15 billion.

    HN: What is the most important factor that has contributed to the robust increase in your revenues this year?

    The current favorable economic situation has played a role. It is evident that people have money and want to afford themselves a nice vacation. At the same time, Czechs are no longer afraid of migrants and terrorism in holiday destinations. These factors adversely affected the entire vacation market in 2016, when we were happy to maintain revenues at the same level as in the preceding year, while our last year's earnings dropped by nearly 40% to approximately 90 million crowns.

    Another contributing factor is the fact that we continue to make investments into technologies and the websites of all our brands – Fischer, NEV-DAMA, and eTravel. Thanks to that, we're able to offer a broader portfolio of products, including dynamic bundles, as well as prices that are more competitive.

    HN: How do technologies help you sell products?

    The technologies we currently use allow customers to choose such options as the length of stay, transport, hotel, and the time of departure and arrival. In addition, travelers can pick the airline they want to use and choose from airports in Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Pardubice, Vienna, Nurnberg, Dresden, and in other cities. At the same time, our system allows selecting from over 50,000 hotels which we either have direct partnerships with or which are booked through the largest hotel banks. At this time, we are the only company in the Czech Republic capable of providing such comprehensive services.

    HN: Do you expect that the next season will be as prosperous as this year?

    Sales of first minute summer packages for 2018 are tens of percent higher than a year ago. Thanks to the fact that wages are increasing, there has been a significant rise in the number of people who want to buy costlier vacation packages and fly to exotic destinations. A few years ago, proceeds from the sale of these packages accounted for no more than several percent of our turnover. Today, exotic destinations are one of the pillars of our business together with the Mediterranean and skiing trips.  

    HN: What exotic countries do Czech tourists visit most often?

    The United Arab Emirates is the clear winner in this regard because of the available transport options. There are three airlines that fly from Prague to the United Arab Emirates, offering a total of 18 flights per week. Other exotic destinations include the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Oman, and islands in the Indian Ocean, such as Zanzibar, Mauritius, and Maldives. Demand is also growing for trips to Kenya.

    HN: The number of last-minute seaside vacation packages offered last summer was rather low. Will the situation improve next year?

    I think that buying a last-minute holiday package for the next summer might be a problem in at least three regions. Especially in Greece, because vacation packages there were sold out in the summer of this year, and buying additional capacity to meet the demand was not possible. The scenario is expected to repeat itself in Greece next year, as well. Spain, Mallorca in particular, is another destination in high demand. My impression is that the island can't accommodate any more people, but the popularity of Mallorca is as high as ever. My personal tip is that Turkey will see a great comeback because first-minute sales for Turkish destinations are rising not only in the Czech Republic, but in other countries, as well. Many tourists from Germany and other European countries are planning to spend their holidays in Turkey. 

    HN: The Czech currency has gained in value, and it is expected that its strengthening will continue. Have you reduced the price of your packages?

    The exchange rate is one of a number of factors that determine the price. The final price depends on the price of air transport, the price of the hotel, and demand for a given locality. Taking that into account, the price of some packages will increase, while others will be less expensive. However, it is impossible to tell which ones will follow which trend. Vacations in Greece might be more expensive because there has been a substantial increase in demand this year.

    Likewise, we can see that trips to five-star all-inclusive hotels in Turkey will sell very well. However, the average price to Mediterranean holiday packages should remain at this year's level. One of the fundamental aspects of our strategy is to maintain competitive prices. Because we've stopped selling products through Invia this year, our costs have been reduced, and that will be reflected in the final price of our holiday packages.

    HN: Is the split from Invia, the largest online vendor of travel packages in the Czech Republic, final?

    Tourism is a very low margin industry, and whoever wants to succeed must be able to continue offering competitive prices. With more than five billion in turnover, we are the number one on this market. We are able to sell the vast majority of our products using our own sales channels and reduce distribution costs this way.

    We have a strong brand, which allows us selling even more packages than in previous years when we had a partnership with Invia. Our long-term strategic goal is to succeed in the segment of sales of vacation packages. To accomplish that, we have a large network of branches, and we continue to invest tens of millions of crowns into new technologies.

    In the end, customers might be able to save several thousand crowns compared to the time when our products were sold through Invia.

    HN: What measures are you planning to improve the sale of travel packages through your websites?

    We want to improve the response time to make it comparable to the leading portals of foreign travel agencies. We will also fine-tune the system to reduce the amount of clicking customers need to do to place an order. Another thing we want to do is to provide customers with simple and clear information on their chosen destination. Very suitable for this purpose have been maps of resorts that clearly show to customers their destination, the distance from the airport, and Trip Advisor recommendations for specific venues to see in the locality. Those who use new technologies first choose an interesting destination, and only then pick the hotel. With that in mind, we will continue to improve our websites.

    HN: Are you planning a mobile application to sell travel packages?

    It is true that more and more people are searching for travel packages using mobile devices. However, they conduct searches using traditional websites. At this time, our objective is to make sure that our responsive website works flawlessly on telephones and tablets. In that regard, our efforts are successful. Nonetheless, creating a mobile application is a possibility in the future. We already have an application for Nev-Dama, which provides weather forecasts and information on snow conditions in winter resorts to skiers who buy a trip using the application.

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  • Our People in the Media27. 7. 2017René Kachyňa Interview to ČTK

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    Based in Lužice in the Hodonín district in the Czech Republic, MND Drilling & Services specializes in drilling wells for the extraction of crude oil and natural gas. Despite the drop of oil prices on global markets in recent years, the company has been successful in winning contract abroad. Every year, MND Drilling & Services enters a new market in one or two European countries. Currently, the company is taking steps to establish itself on the Dutch market, as reported by Chairman of the Board of Directors René Kachyňa in today's interview to the Czech Press Agency.

    The Lužice-based enterprise is a subsidiary of the MND oil and gas company. Together, they are members of the KKCG Group owned by entrepreneur Karel Komárek. Originally, MND Drilling & Services operated as a drilling contractor that only catered to the needs of its parent company. "Because extraction in Moravia has been going on for 100 years and because the deposits will be inevitably exhausted one day, we have started to look for contracts in foreign countries. Despite the strong competition there, we have been able to win contracts thanks to the fact that we have invested into state-of-the-art drilling rigs in recent years. Our competitors have older equipment, and do not invest into new technologies because of the situation in the marketplace. We know that some of them are in the red and are waiting for the situation to turn around, as has happened several times in the past," said Kachyňa.

    The countries where MND Drilling & Services operates include Germany, where the firm has a sister company. In Italy, the MND Group has acquired a majority stake in a local drilling company – LP Drilling. In addition, MND conducts business in Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, and Serbia. "Another European country where we want to establish ourselves is the Netherlands," revealed Kachyňa.

    The firm's clients include such global giants as Exxon Mobile and OMV as well as smaller production companies. MND Drilling & Services has 10 drilling rigs, which allow drilling wells with a diameter ranging from 12 centimeters to one meter and a depth between 900 meters and five to six kilometers. While a shallow well might take only two weeks to drill, boring a deep one can last as long as six months. "Our modern rigs make us attractive to a large number of clients because we can drill faster, which translates into lower costs," said Kachyňa.

    Wells are drilled in locations identified by geologists based on geophysical measurements and subsequent analyses. "No matter what, the success rate of all wells drilled on the global scale is only 30%, as there isn't always a deposit on sites where drilling takes place. In Moravia, the success rate of our wells is approximately 50%," reported Kachyňa.

    During the drilling process, the well is continually flushed to evacuate the drilled rock toward the surface and to maintain the well under a constant pressure. Once the drilling is completed, a steel tube is inserted inside the well for reinforcement purposes. "Subsequently, explosives are transported to the bottom to puncture the tube at the desired depth. Afterward, oil and gas, being under pressure, flow from the rock into the well and rise to the surface. The pressure gradually decreases as a well gets older. Secondary extraction methods are used to remove all crude oil from a deposit, such as pumps or the reverse injection of air or natural gas," explained Kachyňa. After a deposit is depleted, the well is filled with cement, and the surface area is recultivated.

    Last year, MND Drilling & Services began drilling geothermal wells in addition to extraction wells. Water with a temperature of 100 degrees and more can be used for the generation of electricity. If the temperature is lower, water is used for heating.

    Revenues recorded by MND Drilling & Services last year, including branches abroad, amounted to 1.6 billion crowns, which is slightly less than in previous years due to the situation on the market. "Despite that, we are able to maintain the utilization of our drilling rigs at 70-75%," reported Kachyňa. MND Drilling & Services currently has 420 employees. During the boom before crude oil prices fell due to the attenuation of production, the company employed as many as 550 workers.

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Press Releases24. 9. 2018Dvořák Prague Festival 2019:

Featuring a Star Lineup of Zubin Mehta, Gil Shaham, and Ivo Pogorelich

The 11th season of the Dvořák Prague Festival, held in September 2018, brought the culmination of a period during which the festival's program and overall concept was created by a team headed by Artistic Director Marek Vrabec. His distinctive approach will leave its mark on next year's edition of the event as well because the basic programming axis for 2019 has already been established.

Since 2013, when Marek Vrabec took over the helm of the programming of Dvořák Prague, the festival has established itself as an outstanding event whose importance transcends the borders of the Czech Republic. "I've decided that this extraordinary edition of the festival will be the last season during which I will be in the role of its artistic director. I'm delighted to have had the opportunity to take part in the organization of this magnificent project, and I'm grateful for the creative freedom I have enjoyed thanks to Karel Komárek. It's been a great honor," said Vrabec.

Already now, it is clear that the 2019 edition will allow listeners experience a host of extraordinary performances. Together with announcing changes in the organization team, Marek Vrabec unveiled some of the programming features of Dvořák Prague 2019. Next year's season will see the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which will be conducted by legendary conductor Zubin Mehta on his last tour with the ensemble. Other artists who will attend include violinist Gil Shaham, who will act as the curator of the festival's chamber music series, and pianist Ivo Pogorelich who will perform a recital. Another exceptional event that is certain to delight spectators will be the premiere of the first version of Dvořák's opera King and Charcoal Burner.

On this occasion, Robert Kolář, Director of the Academy of Classical Music, thanked Marek Vrabec for the fundamentally important role he has played in the preparation of the previous seasons of the festival as well as for the artistic quality and prestige in cultural circles the event has gained under his leadership. "I'd like to quote Antonín Dvořák who told students at the Prague Conservatory during one of his lectures, 'Conceiving a beautiful idea is nothing overly special. An idea comes on its own, and if it's beautiful and grand, it is not thanks to an effort on the person's part. However, taking an idea and using it to create something extraordinary, that is the difficult part, that is true art!´ I might add that Marek Vrabec's team has succeeded in transforming a beautiful idea into an exceptional artistic achievement," said Robert Kolář.

He added that the overall concept of the Academy of Classical Music would undergo a change in the upcoming months. "Thanks to the lasting support of the Karel Komárek Family Foundation, we will continue to develop the Dvořák Prague Festival in the years to come, make sure that it is regarded as an important pan-European project, and, at the same time, honor the legacy of one of the world's greatest music composers in a systematic way," explained Kolář, adding that the Academy of Classical Music will announce new activities and projects aimed at honoring the legacy of Antonín Dvořák and much more in the coming weeks.

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Press Releases27. 4. 2018KKCG to Submit Offer for the Czech Operations of innogy

KKCG Group plans to submit a bid for the Czech assets of German energy company innogy.

"I can confirm that we are contemplating the purchase of the Czech assets of innogy, and that we are in the process of preparing an offer which we intend to submit within the next few days.  We want to give serious consideration to this business opportunity which has appeared on the market, seeing as it perfectly dovetails with our long-term strategy of developing the energy segment of our group.  This segment is represented by the activities of MND Group, which pursues its business in the same market areas as Innogy, i.e., in particular, electricity and gas supplies to private households and enterprises, and the operation of underground gas storage facilities.  MND Group is one of the biggest players in the Czech energy market, and the successful absorption of the Czech operations of innogy would boost MND's Group position in the domestic market in a major way," says Karel Komárek, owner of KKCG Group and chairman of the board of directors of MND a.s.               

Such a sale of assets of innogy in the Czech Republic would conform to the understanding reached last month on the European level between innogy's parent company RWE and its competitor E.ON, on a demerger of innogy Group. 

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Press Releases27. 4. 2018SAZKA Group Enters Croatia

SAZKA Group becomes a strategic partner holding a controlling stake in SuperSport

SAZKA Group, one of Europe’s largest gaming operators, has become a strategic partner holding a controlling interest in SuperSport d.o.o. (“SuperSport”), the Croatian market leader in online and land-based sports-betting by GGR.

SuperSport has grown rapidly since the business was founded in 2000 and holds licenses and concessions in land-based and online sports-betting granted by the Croatian Government until 2025.

Robert Chvátal, CEO of the SAZKA Group said, “The acquisition of SuperSport, the market leading Croatian sports-betting company by GGR, has compelling strategic logic, giving SAZKA Group access to an attractive gaming market while strengthening the Group’s position in the dynamic online sports-betting industry.‘‘ 

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Press Releases16. 4. 2018The Arts Ceremony took place in Cape Town

Karel and Stephanie Komárek recognized outstanding contributors to South African culture with the Kennedy Center Gold Medal in the Arts.

The six artists who were presented the Medal are a diverse representation of outstanding artists in South Africa. The ceremony took place on Saturday, April 14 at the Zeitz Museum of Modern Art in Cape Town, South Africa. 

“The culture of South Africa is known for its rich and unique blend of ethnic and cultural diversity. South Africa is also known for its stellar art scene. Stephanie and I are honored to represent the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the national cultural center of the United States and living memorial to President John F. Kennedy and recognize some of South African greatest artists.” says Karel Komárek.

The Kennedy Center Gold Medal in the Arts is an award given annually to performers and arts leaders in the international community. This year they have been presented to: Basil J.R. Jones and Adrian P. Kohler of the Handspring Puppet Company, actor John Kani, the “First Lady of African Song” Sibongile Khumalo, exuberant storyteller Gcina Mhlophe and McCoy Mrubata, an accomplished saxophonist, collaborator, and bandleader.

The Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts proudly bestows the Gold Medal in the Arts in recognition of extraordinary achievement in the arts each year at its international summit. The Committee awards inspiring individuals, whose lifetime achievements have created, nurtured, supported, and championed the world’s greatest arts and artists.

About the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts

The Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts (KCICA) was established in 2001 to support international programming at the Center, as well as to encourage global exchange in the arts.  KCICA members are passionate performing arts enthusiasts and are among the Kennedy Center’s most philanthropic contributors.

The Kennedy Center frequently presents large-scale, highly acclaimed international festivals, further promoting intercultural dialogue and bringing international cultures to Washington. The KCICA plays an instrumental role in supporting these showcases.

Karel and Stephanie Komárek became the Co-Chairs of the KCICA in December 2017.

About the Kennedy Center

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is the national cultural center of the United States and the living memorial to President John F. Kennedy.  The nine theaters and stages attract more than three million visitors to more than 2,000 performances each year, while Center-related touring productions, television, and radio broadcasts reach 40 million more around the world.

The Center produces and presents performances of music, dance, comedy, and theater, supports artists in the creation of new work, and serves the nation as a leader in arts education.  With its artistic affiliates, the National Symphony Orchestra and the Washington National Opera, the Center has produced more than 300 theatrical productions and dozens of new ballets, operas, and musical works, in addition to hosting numerous international festivals.

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Press Releases1. 3. 2018SafeDX introduces Next-gen Cloud Services

SafeDX introduces Next-gen Cloud Services on flexible, cost-efficient infrastructure from Foxconn and Intel.

SafeDX begins deployment of the largest OpenStack cluster in Central Europe for its Next-gen Data Center Cloud Services in the Czech Republic.  The Data Center infrastructure was designed in collaboration with Intel and Foxconn to deliver best-in-class cost efficiency, and flexibility.

SafeDX Next-Gen Cloud Services are tailored to the needs of international cloud service providers that seek a partner for their Central and Eastern European expansion. This latest infrastructure deployment was designed to provide the flexible performance and capacity allocation requirements SafeDX’s customers demand. “We are creating highly cost efficient and flexible IT infrastructure platform that our customers truly benefit from.” explains SafeDX CEO Martin Smekal. “We’ve partnered with Intel and Foxconn to bring cutting-edge technology and architectural innovations to our customers to leverage as a business advantage.”

SafeDX is the first cloud service provider in Europe to leverage the advanced telemetry capabilities of the newest generation of Intel® Xeon Scalable processors combined with Intel® Rack Scale Design (Intel® RSD) reference architecture.  Intel RSD is an industry-aligned architecture for composable, disaggregated infrastructure. “Intel RSD offers a foundation for agility and efficiency that Cloud Service Providers need to meet the evolving demands of modern data centres,” said Figen Ulgen, General Manager of Intel Rack Scale Design. “Through this collaboration with Intel and Foxconn, SafeDX can offer their customers access to the latest advances in data center infrastructure.” 

SafeDX has completed the first phase of the new infrastructure deployment and has reached greater levels of energy efficiency through Intel’s intelligent DC management platform. “Our goal with the original proof-of-concept was greatly improve our cooling efficiency,” adds Martin Smekal.  “After testing the solution we achieved a 25% PUE improvement utilizing these innovative technologies from Intel.” A detailed case study can be found at http://www.safedx.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Intel-SafeDX-Case-Study.pdf.

For more details on SafeDX Next-gen Cloud Services, please contact Mr. Mike Pokrovsky - Mike.Pokrovsky@safedx.eu to schedule an evaluation at our state-of-art design centre.

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KKCG Profile28. 11. 2017Springtide Ventures invests in Techloop

The Series A investment will allow the startup to expand its virtual IT recruitment marketplace to other European countries.

Having received seed investment from Rockaway Ventures last year, Techloop, a virtual marketplace connecting IT professionals and prospective employers, has now obtained a Series A investment from Springtide Ventures/KKCG with the participation of Rockaway Ventures. The investment totals five million euros (close to 130 million crowns).

Techloop is a virtual marketplace that reinvents the way IT professionals search for jobs. It allows them to remain anonymous while receiving job offers directly from prospective employers. In addition, users who find a job through Techloop receive a EUR 500 hiring bonus from Techloop. Techloop has grown considerably in 2017, and currently connects over 25,000 IT professionals with more than 900 prospective employers in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia.  Since the platform was launched in 2016, several hundreds of IT professionals have found jobs using Techloop. "We want to continue improving the experience of finding a job or recruiting professionals in the IT sector. We are also planning expansion to several other European countries. Our vision is to provide greater choice for the thousands of IT professionals who look for a new career opportunity," said Techloop CEO and Cofounder Joao Duarte. According to Duarte, Techloop's partnership with two strong and experienced investors is a major asset, "We’re delighted to have forged a partnership with Springtide Ventures and Rockaway Ventures. Their know-how and investments will be of key importance in the expansion of the Techloop platform," said Duarte.                                                    

One of the most important investments in the Czech IT sector, the venture has allowed Springtide Ventures to further enlarge its portfolio of high-potential startup companies. Together with other IT investments, startups are to form one of the fundamental pillars of the business of the parent undertaking, KKCG. "Surveys show that the shortage of IT specialists in Europe alone will amount to 900,000 workers between now and the year 2020. Already now, four out of 10 European companies that hire IT specialists face difficulties. For us, investing into an innovative enterprise that offers an effective solution to this problem is a logical step in this area," explained Marek Jablonský, CEO of Springtide Ventures, a company that is a member of the KKCG Investment Group. 

"We invested seed round in Techloop nearly 11 months ago. Since then, we've been impressed by work done by the firm's three founders, especially their ability to get things done and deliver results. We will continue to support Techloop in its international expansion with additional financing, strategic guidance, and human resources,"said Viktor Fischer from Rockaway Ventures.

The investment will allow Techloop to grow from its current 28 employees to approximately 150 during the next two years. "To meet our ambitious plans for growth, we are now hiring a large number of specialists for Techloop's headquarters in Prague. We're looking for talented professionals in customer service, sales, and marketing," said Techloop COO and Cofounder Paul Cooper.

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