Evolution in the natural world is a slow process. But in the hyperconnected world in which we live and work, it’s
fast – and becoming faster all the time. As an example, twenty years ago, very few people had ever heard of the ‘Internet of Things’. Ten years ago, the term ‘Industry 4.0’ had not yet been coined. At the start of 2020, few people had paid attention to terms such as coronavirus, social distancing, lockdowns or infection waves. Yet today, these terms are part of our everyday vocabulary, showing just how fast the world around us is changing.

In response to our rapidly changing landscape, five years ago, we embarked on a strategy of intentional evolution, which involved diversifying our product portfolio in higher margin segments. By 2020, despite market challenges, we had essentially met and in many ways, exceeded this ambition.

Evolution is based on a series of events, processes and responses. Around the world, people are responding to natural resources constraints by seeking responsible alternatives to non-renewables and solutions that are truly sustainable from seed to final product.

We are responding to these needs by building on our success in intentional evolution to accelerate an enhanced journey of evolution aligned with our Thrive25 strategy. We are doing so from a foundation based on a coalition of diverse perspectives and expertise; as well as a history of seeking out and investing in breakthroughs that enable lasting outcomes for our partners and a lighter footprint on the world. We are building on these to ensure that every solution we create supports our goal of making everyday products more sustainable and that we accelerate meaningful change.


Stars form when celestial clouds collapse, feeding a rotating disc of gas and dust into a dense, hot central core. Amongst other things, pulsating stars give off carbon, a key ingredient for life as we know it. From chaos, something beautiful – and essential – is created.

We can view this as a metaphor for the coronavirus pandemic that infected and affected people regardless of nationality, class or wealth, leaving intense disruption in its wake. However, it also ushered in a global drive to reimagine our way of being on the planet. A new agenda for change is emerging, gaining traction and raising questions that will not go away.

Questions like: How do we reimagine a collective future where changed behaviours will allow us to live more in balance with nature than before? How do we

maintain and even intensify the sense of connection, caring and community that was one of the unexpected, but welcome, impacts of the pandemic? How do we deal with the uncertainty on the horizon when future surges of Covid-19 occur?

At Sappi we are taking bold, decisive action to respond to these challenges by extracting the full potential of trees and woodfibre to develop practical innovations for everyday impact and innovate what we should, not just what we can. We’re also establishing and maintaining proactive dialogue with all our stakeholders as well as working with and supporting local communities.

In doing so, we can not only create a more sustainable future, but also unlock significant long-term value for all our stakeholders.


Rocks are the ultimate symbol of resilience. They are fused together over time from solid crystals of different minerals. These natural processes bind them all together, imparting strength and resilience. But even rocks are shaped and reshaped over time by natural forces like water, wind and sun.

They’re a reminder that none of us are impervious to the global forces shaping our world. Forces like climate change, urbanisation, social inequality and of course, the new reality brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and Covid-19.

We’ve proven our resilience to succeed in the ‘new normal’ and we will continue to do so as we work to accelerate our decarbonisation journey, meet the changing needs of rapidly urbanising populations while managing our environmental footprint and promoting a diverse, inclusive workforce.

At Sappi we operate across different geographies, meeting the needs of customers from New Zealand to New Mexico, but our common purpose makes us stronger and more resilient: Sappi exists to build a thriving world by unlocking the power of renewable resources to benefit people, communities, and the planet. This is our inspiration and our call to create a brighter future for the world and for our business.


Collectively, the world is drawing a deep breath as we slowly emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and impact of Covid-19.

During the crisis, the safety of our people was our top priority. After which, like many enterprises across the world, our underlying goal was economic survival. To achieve this, we focused on the preservation of liquidity, lowering costs by deferring non-critical capex projects and postponing some annual maintenance shuts. We also took commercial downtime across all segments as required, in order to match supply to demand and prevent the build-up of inventory.

The verb ‘emerge’ is derived from the classical Latin ēmergere, meaning ‘to rise out or up’. We are proud

to say that we are rising from the impact of Covid-19 with strong growth in sales and profitability for the packaging and speciality papers segment, quickly recovering dissolving pulp market and steady month-on-month improvement for graphic papers.

As OneSappi we are steely in our determination to emerge from survival mode back onto a growth curve. A curve based on our strategy of diversifying our product portfolio into higher margin and growing segments – a strategy fully justified during the events of the past year.

Doing so is challenging, but we believe we can realise our vision of a thriving world by collaborating with all our stakeholders to create solutions for our collective needs and emerge stronger than ever before.


Linear momentum is defined as the product of a system’s mass multiplied by its velocity. The greater an object’s mass or the greater its velocity, the greater its momentum. In other words, momentum is about both magnitude and direction.

It can be difficult to maintain momentum in times of profound change or crisis, but it’s important to do so. That’s because action creates movement which in turn can create unanticipated opportunities.

Recognising this, at Sappi we responded to the coronavirus pandemic and Covid-19 in order to keep our forward momentum. We swiftly implemented a comprehensive Covid-19 action plan that ensured the health and safety of our employees and enabled us to operate in a safe, uninterrupted manner where demand permitted. Working closely with our

customers and suppliers we systematically increased activity and output in response to improved market demand. Our support for local communities helped mitigate the impact of the pandemic and the ensuing socio-economic consequences on them.

Looking ahead, we are confident that we can accelerate our momentum to navigate forward: We have the mass in the form of wide-ranging expertise, extensive infrastructure, strong foundation of research and development, together with our range of sustainable solutions produced from renewable woodfibre. And we have the velocity in the form of our ambitious but achievable Thrive25 strategy, which allows us to take advantage of the changing dynamics between the environment, consumers and the products they require. Above all, our passionate, committed people provide the impetus to power us forward.

Five year review for the year ended September 2020

US$ million 2020   2019 2018 2017 2016
Income statement            
Sales 4,609   5,746 5,806 5,296 5,141
Variable manufacturing and delivery costs 2,838   3,530 3,521 3,147 3,061
Fixed costs 1,673   1,771 1,767 1,601 1,571
Sundry expenses (income)(1) 41   43 38 22 22
Operating profit excluding special items 57   402 480 526 487
Special items – (gains) losses 95   19 (9) (57)
Operating profit (loss) (38)   383 489 526 544
Net finance costs 88   85 68 80 121
Profit (loss) before taxation (126)   298 421 446 423
Taxation charge 9   87 98 108 104
Profit (loss) for the year (135)   211 323 338 319
EBITDA excluding special items 378   687 762 785 739
Balance sheet            
Total assets 5,455   5,623 5,670 5,247 5,177
Non-current assets 3,891   3,789 3,766 3,378 3,171
Current assets 1,564   1,834 1,904 1,869 2,006
Current liabilities 1,123   1,214 1,173 1,043 1,474
Shareholders’ equity 1,632   1,948 1,947 1,747 1,378
Net debt 1,957   1,501 1,568 1,322 1,408
   Gross interest-bearing debt 2,236   1,894 1,931 1,872 2,111
   Cash (279)   (393) (363) (550) (703)
Capital employed 3,589   3,449 3,515 3,069 2,786
Cash flow            
   Cash generated from operations 323   673 709 748 693
   Decrease (increase) in working capital 65   (15) (79) (27) 4
   Finance costs paid (103)   (51) (84) (96) (107)
   Finance income received 6   9 18 15 16
   Taxation paid (26)   (51) (73) (100) (56)
   Dividends paid   (92) (81) (59)
Cash generated from operating activities 260   473 410 481 550
Net cash generated (utilised) (257)   1 (254) 108 359
Cash effects of financing activities 138   56 68 (279) (130)
Capital expenditure (gross) 351   471 541 357 241
   To maintain operations 126   148 167 140 155
   To expand operations 225   323 374 217 86
Exchange rates            
US$ per one Euro exchange rate – closing 1,163   1,094 1,161 1,181 1,123
US$ per one Euro exchange rate – average (financial year) 1,120   1,128 1,190 1,106 1,111
ZAR to one US$ exchange rate – closing 17,131   15,156 14,147 13,556 13,714
ZAR to one US$ exchange rate – average (financial year) 16,226   14,346 13,052 13,381 14,788
(1) Sundry items include all income and costs not directly related to manufacturing operations such as debtor securitisation costs, commissions paid and received and results of equity-accounted investments.
US$ million 2020   2019 2018 2017 2016
Number of ordinary shares (millions)(1)            
In issue at year end 546.1   542.8 539.3 535.0 530.6
Basic weighted average number of shares in issue during the year 545.5   542.0 538.1 533.9 529.4
Per share information (US cents)            
Basic earnings (loss) (25)   39 60 63 60
Diluted earnings (loss) (25)   39 59 62 59
Headline earnings (loss) (19)   42 59 64 58
Diluted headline earnings (loss) (19)   42 58 63 57
EPS excluding special items (US cents) (5)   44 60 64 57
Net asset value 299   359 361 327 260
Profitability ratios (%)            
Operating profit (loss) to sales (0.8)   6.7 8.4 9.9 10.6
Operating profit excluding special items to sales 1.2   7.0 8.3 9.9 9.5
EBITDA excluding special items to sales 8.2   12.0 13.1 14.8 14.4
Operating profit excluding special items to capital employed (ROCE) 1.6   11.0 14.6 18.0 17.5
Net debt to EBITDA excluding special items 5.2   2.2 2.1 1.7 1.9
Interest cover 4.7   9.3 11.0 9.1 7.3
Return on average equity (ROE) (7.5)   10.0 17.5 21.6 26.7
Debt ratios (%)            
Net debt to total capitalisation 54.5   43.5 44.6 43.1 50.5
Efficiency ratios            
Asset turnover (times) 0.8   1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0
Inventory turnover ratio 6.3   7.0 6.7 7.0 7.0
Liquidity ratios            
Current asset ratio 1.4   1.5 1.6 1.8 1.4
Trade accounts receivable days outstanding (including receivables securitised) 44   46 45 45 44
Cash interest cover (times) 3.7   7.6 9.3 8.1 5.6
Other non-financial information(2)            
Sales volumes 6,788   7,622 7,591 7,410 7,253
Number of full-time equivalent employees 12,805   12,821 12,645 12,158 12,051
Lost time injury frequency rate (including contract employees) 0.35   0.54 0.43 0.44 0.46
   Energy intensity (GJ/adt) 23.71   22.16 22.61 22.77 22.90
   Renewable energy to total energy (%) 54.44   53.49 52.14 53.70 53.77
   Specific process water drawn (m3/adt) 36.82   34.33 34.24 33.95 34.90
   Specific process water returned (m3/adt) 34.53   32.19 32.30 32.10 32.23
   Specific total landfill (tonne/adt) 0.061   0.066 0.064 0.079 0.069
   Specific Scope 1 emissions (ton CO2 eq/adt) 0.71   0.66 0.69 0.68 0.69
   Absolute Scope 1 (ton CO2e) 4,083,122.97   4,426,125 4,452,593 4,326,977 4,230,404
   Specific Scope 2 emissions (ton CO2 eq/adt) 0.21   0.23 0.24 0.25 0.28
   Absolute Scope 2 (ton CO2e) 1,196,188.99   1,539,904 1,545,314 1,583,416 1,692,230
Refer to share statistics section for other market and share-related information.
(1) Net of treasury shares (refer to note 19 to the group financial statements).
(2) Certain energy, water, waste and emissions data for the comparative years have been restated using the latest reporting standards and measurement methodology.

Note: Definitions for various terms and ratios used above are included in the Glossary section.