Sappi to sell 4,5% stake to black investors

FORMER politicians Valli Moosa and Popo Molefe as well as advertising industry veteran Peter Vundla are some of the beneficiaries of Sappi's R814million empowerment deal.

Sappi employees, communities that are based near the paper manufacturer's plants and other black investment groups will also benefit from the broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) transaction announced yesterday.

Sappi plans to sell a 4,5percent stake, or 24,3million shares, to black investors. The deal will enable the company's local operation to have a 30percent black economic empowerment ownership as required by law.

Sappi Limited chief executive Ralph Boëttger said the paper group anticipated more deals and business growth as a result of the transaction. "This transaction would allow us to take advantage of business opportunities which we would not get in South Africa if we weren't empowered," he said. "All our employees in South Africa, except white managers, will participate in this BEE transaction."

The paper group, which has a local workforce of about 7000, plans to implement the transaction in two phases. The first phase will see Sappi issue 20million new shares to trust funds. Sappi's full-time employees with no current participation in a Sappi share scheme will participate in the deal through the Employee Share Ownership Plan Trust, while the Management Share Ownership Plan Trust is designated for black (African, coloured and Indian) managers.

Sappi said communities around its plants and mills in Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal would benefit through its Foundation.

In the second phase of implementation, Sappi will issue approximately 4,3million Ordinary Shares to the participants of the 2006 Plantation BEE Land Deal: Lereko Investments, led by liberation stalwarts Molefe and Moosa; Malibongwe Women Development Trust, a charity trust chaired by ANC Women's League treasurer Bertha Gxowa, and Vundla's AMB Capital will benefit.

Musa Madonsela, financial adviser for Malibongwe Women Development Trust, said there was no formal link between Malibongwe and ANCWL. Dr Lulu Gwagwa, Lereko Investments executive director, said Lereko's relationship with Sappi was substantive and had created significant opportunities for the consortium.

Spokesperson for the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union Cedric Maluleke said the deal served to ensure that workers "aren't regarded as people who just maximise profits for companies, but should also benefit in the process".