Home » Sappi names South African business mogul Nkululeko Sowazi as new chair

Sappi names South African business mogul Nkululeko Sowazi as new chair

Sappi shakes up leadership: Nkululeko Sowazi unveiled as new chair

by Mfonobong Nsehe
Nkululeko Sowazi

Sappi Limited, a major player in the global pulp and paper industry, has unveiled South African businessman Nkululeko Sowazi as its newly appointed chair, signaling a strategic move for the company in the face of challenging market conditions.

The announcement coincides with the release of the group’s fourth-quarter and year-end results for September 2023, which revealed declines in key financial metrics.

Sowazi, a seasoned South African businessman with over 30 years of executive and investment management experience, will assume the role on Feb. 8, 2024.

Currently, a member of the Audit and Risk Committee, Sowazi will succeed the incumbent chairman, Nigel Rudd, who is set to retire at the firm’s upcoming annual general meeting (AGM).

Sappi signals confidence in Nkululeko Sowazi’s ability to lead the company

Sappi expressed confidence in Sowazi’s ability to lead the company, citing his strong commercial and entrepreneurial track record and a distinguished reputation in the market.

The board expects Sowazi to build upon Rudd’s achievements, focusing on expanding packaging and specialty papers capacity while reducing exposure to declining graphic paper markets.

The recently released financial results indicate a challenging period for Sappi, with a 20-percent decline in sales to $5.80 billion. Ebitda (excluding special items) saw a substantial 45-percent decrease to $731 million.

Profit for the year ended September 2023 experienced a 52-percent decline to $259 million, with headline earnings per share (Heps) weakening by 62 percent to $0.50, compared to $1.30 cents in the previous comparable period.

Nkululeko Sowazi: A multifaceted leader with a storied business portfolio

Sowazi, a prominent figure in the South African business landscape, brings a wealth of experience from various sectors, including mining, real estate, technology, infrastructure, and finance.

His extensive leadership roles in companies like Bud Chemicals & Minerals, Home Loan Guarantee Co. NPC, Synchem, Inc., and Tiso Investment Holdings Pty Ltd., as well as his contributions to economic growth through initiatives like Tiso Group, Tiso Foundation, and Tiso Blackstar Group, highlight his commanding expertise and exceptional leadership.

As Sappi embarks on a new era under Sowazi’s leadership, the chairman-elect’s extensive track record positions him to steer the company towards a successful turnaround, aligning with the company’s goals in an evolving global market.

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