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King in €1m-plus Serbian acquisition


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Dublin-born former banker Ken King and a co-founder have invested over €1m in a Serbian software engineering outsourcing firm that will target the telecom and financial services industries in the UK and Ireland.

A graduate of Trinity College, King previously held senior technology roles in Swiss private bank Lombard Odier and Deutsche Bank.

London-based Navan Digital will specialise in digital identity, digital transformation and blockchain-based technology. From 30 recruits initially, the firm plans to grow to a workforce of 300. It will raise further funding for expansion as necessary, King said.

King’s co-founder, Jason Mochine, has a 30-year background in finance and technology business development.

The firm has acquired OutsourceCentral, a Serbian firm with a strong track record in providing remote development teams to an international client base from Belgrade and Novi Sad. The amount paid for the acquisition was not disclosed, but it is understood it currently has a balance sheet of over €1m to fund its initial growth.

Software engineering salaries in Serbia start at about $30,000 (€26,000)  a fraction of Irish and UK salary levels for such roles. There are about 3,300 new software engineering graduates every year, King, who has spent some time in the country in recent years, said.

Economic reforms since 2018 have made Serbia a strong FDI target, with Bosch, Michelin, Siemens, Microsoft, and Panasonic investing there. Twice in the past three years, the Financial Times has ranked the country first for greenfield FDI performance.

King, the son of a garda superintendent who grew up on the Navan Road in Dublin, began his career with Irish Life in Dublin before moving to London in 1990.

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He previously spent five years working on microfinance and aid projects in Kenya, also writing a book, The Endeavourist, about his time there.

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