When a company’s CEO is given the honour of blowing the metre-long kudu antelope horn at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), it not only signals the ritual opening of the local financial market. It also marks the celebration of success – in this case, Sappi’s re-entry to the JSE Top 40 Index, as well as our 80th year of being listed on the JSE.
On 31 January 2017, Sappi CEO Steve Binnie blew the horn amid loud clapping and cheers from the crowd of media, Sappi staff and JSE personnel attending the function in Johannesburg. It was the JSE’s first market opening celebration for 2017.
For Sappi and our stakeholders, this symbolic gesture provided further proof that our strategy and 2020Vision have succeeded in placing us on a trajectory of growth, profitability and long-term success.
The Top 40 is South Africa’s best-known financial index and includes the 40 largest companies listed on the JSE. It is also the index that most investors and analysts monitor as an overall benchmark for the local exchange.
Sappi exited the Top 40 Index in 2009, during a period in company history marked by a decline in profits due to the impact of the digital era on our graphic paper business – Sappi’s main manufacturing focus at the time.
“We have since made a remarkable turnaround and have changed the fortunes of our business,” Sappi CEO Steve Binnie told the audience, as he shared key aspects of our strategy and 2020Vision - from selling non-core assets to improving production efficiencies, reducing costs, lowering debt and generating cash to strengthen Sappi’s balance sheet. The company’s focus going forward is on growth – particularly in dissolving pulp, speciality packaging and new business opportunities.
Since 2009, Sappi’s share price has increased over 400% from around R15 to R86 today.
Photo: Steve Binnie and JSE staff