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Mia Zečević, CEO, Novaston

ESG Principles For Permanent Savings

This year Novaston is commemorating 10 years of successful operations in Serbia and the region. It has built a position for itself in the retail, business and logistics sectors, and is now striving to establish and apply trends in the management of aparthotels

When it comes to the EU market, ESG principles will soon be essential for everyone from Serbia wanting to do business with other companies, but Serbia has yet to adopt a specific law that addresses these issues – explains Novaston CEO Mia Zečević, before revealing why this is among the most important topics for all investors.

Given that you’re entering the second decade of your operations, has the time come to expand your portfolio or conquer new markets?

Novaston logo

We’ve grown from seven employees to become a unique platform with more than 40 strategic projects and 500,000m2 of real estate surface area that we manage for more than 15 clients, among which are the likes of Schneider Electric, Ikea Serbia, NEPI Rockcastle, CPI Property Group et al.

We have built a position in the retail, business and logistics sectors, and we are continuing to apply trends in the management of aparthotels in our country and around the region. Alongside property management, our platform also offers owners a return on their investment through the rental of apartments, considering the tourist potential and project concept. We are working on several other similar projects, with the goal of providing a long-term investment product for all stakeholders in the project development process.

It used to be location that had a crucial influence on the value of real estate, while the standout factors today are ESG standards and energy sustainability. Are these new standards also flourishing in our country?

ESG principles are no longer a trend and choice issue, but rather implementing them in all areas of business is a key factor that’s almost an essential requirement for all companies. They will soon be a necessity for all those from Serbia wanting to do business with other companies when it comes to the EU market. We still lack a specific law that deals with ESG issues, apart from traditional regulations in the domain of environmental, labour and criminal law, which isn’t sufficient because ESG implies a much broader story. The will also exists to regulate this area, so we will see what kind of incentives there will be for companies that implement ESG principles in their business strategies.

Our goal is to provide all stakeholders in the project development process with a long-term investment product

The problem is that, for local investors, the most important factor is the costs that they have, so they only observe the extent to which a project pays off through the short and medium term. Their greatest interest is in how they can extract greater profit as soon as possible, often overlooking the fact that they would be more profitable over the long run. Foreign companies think differently. As an example, I can note that we worked on a project to reconstruct a business property in Novi Sad, where the investor is local and the building is being entered by one of the world’s largest companies – Schneider Electric – that knows what it wants.

You worked in cooperation with law firm Gecić Law to release a guide for real estate investments in Serbia? How did that come about?

The ‘Guide to real estate development – Office Space Case study’ shows, in an understandable and transparent way, the process of investing in the development of a project to construct business premises. Our goal was to create something concise, in one place, for those wanting to invest; to demystify every stage of that challenging process: from making the decision to invest, via construction and opening, to the moment when the building comes to life. Its creation included the participation of the Novaston team, which is characterised by its specific expertise, familiarity with the real estate market in Serbia and the region, more than 15 years of experience in the creation and management of hundreds of thousands of square metres of real estate, together with the team of law firm Gecić Law, which took care of the legal aspect.

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