Aung Ko Win
Birth: 11 November 1961
Source of wealth: Kanbawza Group
Address: No.615/1, Pyay Rd, Kamayut Tsp, YANGON
Business: Banking, Insurance, Construction, HighWay Construction, Agribusiness, Mining, Trading, Health Care Services, Cigarette Agent, Cement, Radio Station, Airline Service, Telecommunication, Fuel Stations
Myanmar’s best–known tycoon Aung Ko Win formed and chairs KBZ Group of Companies, with more than 80,000 employees. KBZ Group controls two airlines, Myanmar’s largest private bank, and lucrative jade and gem mining concessions. KBZ Bank has won a range of awards, including the Global Award and the Bank of the Year in Myanmar.
“I used to keep in low profile by taking lessons from some high profiles in our country.”
Business magnate Aung Ko Win, chairs the Kanbawza Group of Companies (KBZ), which has more than 80,000 employees. KBZ Group of Companies is among Myanmar’s leading diversified conglomerates and in 2019, will celebrate its silver jubilee. Aung Ko Win enjoys significant influence over sectors such as tourism and hospitality, healthcare, trading, real-estate, agriculture, manufacturing, insurance, banking, mining, and aviation.
A former school teacher, Aung Ko Win is the perfect embodiment of Myanmar business leadership, serving the uppermost ranks of a major part of Myanmar’s national economy. He was among the most criticized associates of Myanmar’s military regime and was in close ties with General Maung Aye (retired second-highest ranking member of Myanmar’s military regime). Many refer to him as the General’s “adopted son”.
Aung Ko Win is among the better-known of Myanmar’s capitalists. He married Nan Than Htwe, the niece of deceased Secretary-3 Lt Gen. Win Myint, further strengthening his ties with the military generals. His name was among those individuals included in the EU sanctions list, together with Nan Than Htwe. The EU’s sanctions on Myanmar were lifted in 2013.
KBZ has its origins in the jade trade and today is one of the leading groups in gems emporiums organized by the government, paying tax on every sale. Aung Ko Win amassed his wealth during the early 1990s from the sapphire and ruby mines in Shan State (when Gen. Maung Aye commandeered the region), through working closely with the one of the largest group of companies in the mining industry, Ever Winner (which owns 12 mining firms).
In 2010, his KBZ bank fended off tycoon Khin Maung Aye’s Co-operative Bank (CB bank) over the possession of Myanmar International Airways (MIA), acquiring 80% of the airline. Aung Ko Win launched a domestic airline, Air KBZ, during the same year. His ventures in construction have included winning many import licenses for cement. With financial assistance from his associates, namely large-scale gem businessmen and coconut oil industrialists, Aung Ko Win was able to take over and manage KBZ Bank.
Since 1994, KBZ Bank has been owned and managed as a family business. Aung Ko Win, his wife and three daughters sit on the group’s board. Unlike several other local companies, KBZ was not subject to international sanctions. The bank’s assets now stand at US$8 billion and the company has more than 17,900 employees.
Currently, KBZ is among the country’s largest private banks, holding 40% of deposits in the country and maintaining the largest branch network (nearly 500 branches). It aims to more than double the number of its branches by 2020.
KBZ has been awarded domestically and internationally: over the past four years, it has been ranked first among all taxpayers by Myanmar’s Ministry of Finance. In terms of transparency, the Myanmar Center for Responsible Business has also ranked it first on the list of leading Myanmar companies.
KBZ bank has also won a range of prestigious awards including “Best Retail Bank in Myanmar”, “Banker of the Year Award” in Asia, and “Best Commercial Bank in Myanmar”. At the 2015 World Economic Forum, KBZ was mentioned among the 100 leading companies, worldwide.
In 2016, KBZ became Myanmar’s first bank to establish an international presence, opening representative offices in Thailand and Singapore. KBZ has also been granted a license to open in Malaysia. Aung Ko Win currently serves as the president of several companies including the Kanbawza Hospital in Shan State, Myanmar Billion Group, East Yoma Company and Nilaryoma Company. He also serves as the London Cigarettes agent for two states, Shan and Kayah.
Aung Ko Win is regarded as one of Myanmar’s most generous philanthropists and is a recipient of Special Honorary State Excellence Award for his charitable works. Since 2007, his Brighter Future Myanmar Foundation has spent more than US$109 million on philanthropic works including provision of fresh water, disaster preparedness and rehabilitation.
His daughters, Nang Lang Kham and Nang Kham Noung, are among Myanmar’s brightest entrepreneurs and work directly with their father’s bank, as deputy chief executive officers.