Sappi 20-F 2005
Documents found in this filing:
Washington, D.C. 20549
o REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
x ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended October 2, 2005
o TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
Commission file number 1-14872
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
(Translation of Registrants name into English)
Republic of South Africa
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organisation)
48 Ameshoff Street
(Address and telephone number of principal executive offices)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act.
American Depositary Shares,
(Title of each class)
New York Stock Exchange
(Name of each exchange on which registered)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act.
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act.
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuers classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.
239,071,892 Ordinary Shares
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
YES x NO o
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
YES o NO x
NoteChecking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
YES x NO o
Indicate by check mark which financial statements item the registrant has elected to follow.
ITEM 17 o ITEM 18 x
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
YES o NO x
* Not for trading but only in connection with the registration of the American Depositary Shares, pursuant to the requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Unless otherwise specified or the context requires otherwise in this Annual Report on Form 20-F (Annual Report):
· references to Sappi, Sappi Group, Group, we, us and our are to Sappi Limited together with its subsidiaries;
· references to southern Africa are to the Republic of South Africa, the Kingdom of Swaziland, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Namibia and the Republic of Botswana;
· references to North America are to the United States, Canada and the Caribbean;
· references to Latin America are to the countries located on the continent of South America and Mexico;
· references to Rand, ZAR and R are to South African Rand and references to SA cents are to South African cents, the currency of South Africa;
· references to US dollar(s), dollar(s), US$, $ and US cents are to United States dollars and cents, the currency of the United States;
· references to euro, EUR and are to the currency introduced at the start of the third stage of the European Economic and Monetary Union pursuant to the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, as amended by the Treaty on the European Union;
· references to Guilders and NLG are to Dutch Guilders, the former currency of the Netherlands;
· references to Deutsche marks and DEM are to German Deutsche marks, the former currency of Germany;
· references to UK pounds sterling and GBP are to United Kingdom pounds sterling, the currency of the United Kingdom;
· references to m2 are to square metres and references to hectares or ha are to a land area of 10,000 square metres or approximately 2.47 acres;
· references to tonnes are to metric tonnes (approximately 2,204.6 pounds or 1.1 short tonnes);
· references to market share are based upon sales volumes in a specified geographic region during the fiscal year ended September 26, 2004; and
· references to the Potlatch acquisition are to the acquisition on May 13, 2002 of Potlatch Corporations coated fine paper business in an asset purchase. The acquisition included Potlatchs Cloquet, Minnesota pulp and paper mill as well as the brands, order book and working capital of the Cloquet mill and the brands, order book and inventories of Potlatchs Brainerd, Minnesota paper mill for an aggregate purchase price of $483 million. We did not acquire Potlatchs Brainerd mill, which Potlatch has closed.
Except as otherwise indicated, in this Annual Report the amounts of capacity or production capacity of our facilities or machines are based upon our best estimates of production capacity at the date of filing of this Annual Report. Actual production by machines may differ from production capacity as a result of products produced, variations in product mix and other factors.
Certain market share information and other statements presented herein regarding our position relative to our competitors with respect to the manufacture or distribution of particular products are not
based on published statistical data or information obtained from independent third parties, but reflect our best estimates. We have based these estimates upon information obtained from our customers, trade and business organisations and associations and other contacts in our industries.
Unless otherwise provided in this Annual Report, trademarks identified by ® are registered trademarks of Sappi Limited or our subsidiaries.
Unless otherwise specified, all references in this Annual Report to a fiscal year and year ended of Sappi Limited refer to a twelve-month financial period. All references in this Annual Report to fiscal 2005, fiscal 2004, fiscal 2003, fiscal 2002 or fiscal 2001 or the year ended September 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 or 2001 refer to Sappi Limiteds twelve-month financial periods ended on October 2, 2005, September 26, 2004, September 28, 2003, September 29, 2002 and September 30, 2001, respectively; references in this Annual Report to fiscal 2006 refer to the period beginning October 3, 2005 and ending October 1, 2006. Our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report have been prepared in conformity with South African generally accepted accounting principles (South African GAAP or SA GAAP), which differ in certain significant respects from United States generally accepted accounting principles (United States GAAP or US GAAP); see note 42 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report. On May 13, 2002, we acquired the coated fine paper business of Potlatch Corporation. Our Group annual financial statements for the year ended September 2002 include the results for the acquired coated fine paper business since its acquisition.
We publish our Group annual financial statements and all financial data presented in this Annual Report in US dollars on a nominal (non-inflation adjusted) basis. For information regarding the conversion to US dollars in fiscal 2005, 2004 and 2003, see note 2 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
In order to utilise the Safe Harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the Reform Act), we are providing the following cautionary statement. Except for historical information contained herein, statements contained in this Annual Report may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Reform Act. The words believe, anticipate, expect, intend, estimate, plan, assume, positioned, will, may, should, risk and other similar expressions, which are predictions of or indicate future events and future trends, which do not relate to historical matters identify forward-looking statements. In addition, this document includes forward-looking statements relating to our potential exposure to various types of market risks, such as interest rate risk, foreign exchange rate risk and commodity price risk. You should not rely on forward-looking statements because they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which are in some cases beyond our control and may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from anticipated future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements (and from past results, performance or achievements). Certain factors that may cause such differences include but are not limited to: the highly cyclical nature of the pulp and paper industry; pulp and paper production, production capacity, input costs (including raw materials, energy and employee costs) and pricing levels in North America, Europe, Asia and southern Africa; any major disruption in production at our key facilities; changes in environmental, tax and other laws and regulations; adverse changes in the markets for our products; any delays, unexpected costs or other problems experienced with any business acquired or to be acquired and achieving expected savings and synergies; consequences of our leverage; adverse changes in the South African political situation and economy or the effect of governmental efforts to address present or future economic or social problems; and the impact of future investments, acquisitions and dispositions (including the financing of investments and acquisitions) and any delays, unexpected costs or other problems experienced in connection with dispositions.
These factors are fully discussed in this Annual Report. For further discussion on these factors, see Item 3Key Information-Selected Financial Data, Item 3Key Information-Risk Factors, Item 4Information on the Company, Item 5Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsOperating Results, Item 10Additional InformationExchange Controls and note 37 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made as of the date of the filing of this Annual Report and are not intended to give any assurance as to future results. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any of these forward-looking statements, whether to reflect new information or future events or circumstances or otherwise.
The selected financial data set forth below has been derived from our Group annual financial statements and are qualified by reference to, and should be read in conjunction with, our Group annual financial statements and the notes thereto, which are included elsewhere in this Annual Report, and Item 5Operating and Financial Review and Prospects.
We prepare our Group annual financial statements according to South African generally accepted accounting principles. There are significant differences between these principles and those applied in the United States. You can read about the principal differences in note 42 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
(1) Sales are defined in note 2 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
(2) Certain items, which are included under Operating profit under SA GAAP, are included under Extraordinary items for US GAAP. For more information refer to note 42 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
(3) The dividends per share were, in each case, declared after the end of the year indicated. For further information on our dividend policy, see Item 8Financial InformationDividend Policy.
(4) Operating assets are defined in note 38 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
(5) Net (loss) profit, basic (loss) earnings per share, diluted (loss) earnings per share, total assets and shareholders equity has been restated under SA GAAP to take into account the requirements of AC 501Accounting for Secondary Tax on Companies (STC)which became effective from the beginning of the current financial year. The effect on net (loss) profit is a decrease of US$3 million, US$4 million and US$6 million for 2004, 2002 and 2001 respectively. The effect on basic (loss) earnings per share is a decrease of 1 US cents, 2 US cents and 2 US cents for 2004, 2002 and 2001 respectively. The effect on diluted (loss) earnings per share is a decrease of 1 US cents, 2 US cents and 3 US cents for 2004, 2002 and 2001 respectively. The effect on total assets and shareholders equity is an increase of US$38 million, US$38 million, US$25 million and US$40 million for 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001 respectively.
(6) In connection with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) rules relating to Conditions for Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures, we have reconciled EBITDA to net profit rather than operating profit and recalculated EBITDA. As a result our definition has been amended to retain non-trading profit/loss and minority interest as part of EBITDA. EBITDA represents earnings before interest (net finance costs), tax, depreciation and amortisation (including fellings). We use EBITDA as an internal measure of performance and believe it is a useful and commonly used measure of financial performance in addition to operating profit and other profitability measures under SA GAAP or US GAAP. EBITDA is not a measure of performance under SA GAAP or US GAAP. EBITDA should not be construed as an alternative to operating profit as an indicator of the companys operations in accordance with SA GAAP or US GAAP. EBITDA is also presented to assist our shareholders and the investment community in interpreting our financial results. This financial measure is regularly used as a means of comparison of companies in our industry by removing certain differences between companies such as depreciation methods, financing structures and taxation regimes. However, EBITDA is presented on a Group basis, and there are regulatory and contractual limitations on our businesses ability to transfer funds among each other. We may also incur tax costs with these transfers. As a result, EBITDA generated by one business may not be
available to make payments on borrowings by another business. Different companies and analysts may calculate EBITDA differently, so making comparisons among companies on this basis should be done very carefully. See the Group income statement to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for an explanation of the computation of net finance costs.
(7) Operating (loss) profit, net (loss) profit, basic (loss) earnings per share, diluted (loss) earnings per share, total assets, operating assets, total long-term borrowings, shareholders equity and EBITDA under US GAAP have been restated for certain changes identified under US GAAP. For more information on this restatement refer to Item 15 of this Annual Report and note 42 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
The following table reconciles net (loss) profit to EBITDA.
In addition to other information contained in this Annual Report, you should carefully consider the following factors before deciding to invest in our ordinary shares and American Depository Shares (ADSs). There may be additional risks that we do not currently know of or that we currently deem immaterial based on the information available to us. Our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected by any of these risks, resulting in a decline in the trading price of our ordinary shares and ADSs.
We operate in a highly cyclical industry, which has in the past resulted in substantial fluctuations in our results.
The markets for our pulp and paper products are significantly affected by changes in industry capacity and output levels and by cyclical changes in the world economy. As a result of periodic supply/demand imbalances in the pulp and paper industry, these markets historically have been highly cyclical, with volatile pulp and paper prices. The timing and magnitude of price increases or decreases in the pulp and paper market have generally varied by region and by type of pulp and paper.
The selling prices of the majority of the products manufactured and purchase prices of many of our raw materials used generally fluctuate in line with commodity cycles; however, as occurred in fiscal 2005, we may not be able to increase selling prices sufficiently or in time to offset the effects of increased costs,
which has an adverse impact on our profitability. Other than maintaining a high level of pulp integration, no hedging techniques related to our raw materials and products are applied. Movements in prices of pulp and paper products are difficult to predict. Also, there may be periods during which demand for our products is insufficient to enable us to operate our production facilities in an economical manner. A sustained period of weak demand or excess supply would be likely to adversely affect pulp and paper prices which could have a material adverse effect on our operating rates and financial results.
Despite a relatively high level of pulp integration on a Group-wide basis, a significant increase in the prices for pulp or pulpwood could adversely affect our non-integrated and partially integrated operations if they are unable to raise paper prices sufficiently to offset the effects of increased costs.
The majority of our fine paper sales consist of sales to merchants. The pricing of products for merchant sales can generally be changed upon between 30 to 90 days advance notice to the merchant. Sales to converters may be subject to longer notice periods for price changes. Such notice periods generally would not exceed 6 to 12 months. In southern Africa, we have entered into longer-term fixed-price agreements of between 6 to 12 months duration for primarily packaging paper and newsprint sales with domestic customers. Such agreements accounted for less than 5% of consolidated sales during fiscal 2005.
Most of our chemical cellulose (dissolving pulp) sales contracts are multi-year contracts. The pricing is generally based on a formula linked to the NBSK price and reset on a quarterly basis.
For further information, see Item 4Information on the CompanyBusiness OverviewThe Pulp and Paper Industry.
The markets for pulp and paper products are highly competitive, and many of our competitors have advantages that may adversely affect our ability to compete with them, particularly in North America.
We compete against a large number of pulp and paper producers located around the world. A recent trend towards consolidation in the pulp and paper industry has created larger, more focused pulp and paper companies. Some of these companies benefit from greater financial resources or operate mills that are lower cost producers of pulp and paper products than our mills. We cannot assure you that each of our mills will be competitive. Furthermore, we cannot assure you that we will be able to take advantage of consolidation opportunities which may arise, or that any failure to exploit opportunities for growth would not make us less competitive. Increased competition, including import duties decrease in accordance with the terms of free trade agreements, could cause us to lose market share, increase expenditures or reduce pricing, any of which could have a material adverse effect on the results of our operations. In addition, competition may result in our being unable to increase selling prices of our products sufficiently or in time to offset the effects of increased costs without losing market share, as occurred in Europe in fiscal 2005, which has an adverse impact on profitabily.
Our North American business has experienced significant losses in recent years due to competition, and it may face additional competitive challenges to returning to profitability. There was a significant amount of coated fine paper capacity added in China in 2005. Some of this capacity may be exported to the US, depressing domestic operating rates and potentially also depressing prices. While we believe our North American business is competitive compared to our US competitors, the assets of our North American business are small in comparison to new world-scale coated fine paper machines. The cost position of our machines in relation to imports from both Asia and Europe may be less competitive due to a variety of factors including currency, fuel costs, shipping charges, duties and market pulp prices. A significant strengthening of the US dollar in comparison to the euro could attract a significant amount of imports from Europe.
The cost of complying with environmental regulation may be significant to our business.
Our operations are subject to a wide range of environmental requirements in the various jurisdictions in which we operate. We expect to continue to incur significant expenditures and may face operational constraints to maintain compliance with applicable environmental laws, to upgrade equipment at our mills and to meet new regulatory requirements, including those in the United States, South Africa and Europe. Expenditures to comply with future environmental laws and regulations could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
For further information, see Item 4Information on the CompanyBusiness OverviewEnvironmental and Safety MattersEnvironmental Matters and Item 5Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsOperating Results.
The availability and cost of Insurance cover can vary considerably from year to year as a result of events beyond our control, and this can result in our paying higher premiums and periodically being unable to maintain the levels or types of insurance carried.
The events of September 11, 2001, and more recently the Asian Tsunami and hurricanes in the United States have resulted in substantial property damage losses seriously affecting the insurance industry, which has led to significant increases in premiums and self-insured deductibles over the last few years in some of the components of our insurance structure and may lead to future increases.
Although we have successfully placed the renewal of our 2006 insurance cover at rates lower than 2005 and self-insured deductibles for any one property damage occurrence have remained at $25 million, with an unchanged aggregate limit of $40 million, we are unable to predict whether past or future events will result in less favourable terms. For property damage and business interruption, there generally does not seem to be cost effective cover available to full value, however, the directors believe that the loss limit cover of $1 billion should be adequate for what they have determined as the reasonably foreseeable loss for any single claim.
While we believe our insurance provides adequate coverage for reasonably foreseeable losses, we continue working on improved enterprise risk management to lower the risk of incurring losses from uncontrolled incidents. We are unable to assure you that actual losses will not exceed our coverage or that such excess will not be material.
New technologies or changes in consumer preferences may affect our ability to compete successfully.
We believe that new technologies or novel processes may emerge and that existing technologies may be further developed in the fields in which we operate. These technologies or processes could have an impact on production methods or on product quality in these fields. Unexpected rapid changes in employed technologies or the development of novel processes that affect our operations and product range could render the technologies we utilise or the products we produce obsolete or less competitive in the future. Difficulties in assessing new technologies may impede us from implementing them and competitive pressures may force us to implement these new technologies at a substantial cost. Any such development could materially and adversely impact our revenues or net profits or both.
Consumer preferences may change as a result of the availability of alternative products or of services such as electronic media or the internet, which could impact consumption of our products.
Our indebtedness may impair our financial and operating flexibility.
Our ratio of total interest-bearing borrowings to shareholders equity has improved significantly in recent years, from 142% at September 1999, to 99% at September 2005. At September 2005, our total interest-bearing borrowings were $1,870 million. While reduction of borrowings is a priority, opportunities to grow within our businesses will continue to be evaluated, and the financing of any future acquisition may include the incurrence of additional indebtness.
We are subject to South African exchange controls, which partially inhibit the free flow of funds from South Africa and can restrict activities of subsidiaries of the Sappi Group. These exchange controls have affected the geographic distribution of our debt. As a result, acquisitions in the United States and Europe were financed with indebtedness incurred by companies in those regions. The level of our debt has important consequences. For example, our ability to obtain additional financing may be limited, which could limit, among other things, our ability to exploit growth opportunities; a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations may be required to make debt service payments; we are exposed to increases in interest rates because a portion of our debt bears interest at variable rates; we may be more leveraged than certain of our competitors; we may be more vulnerable to economic downturns and adverse changes in our business; and our ability to withstand competitive pressure may be more limited.
In addition, certain of our financing arrangements contain covenants and conditions that restrict the activities of certain Group companies.
Exchange control restrictions may restrict the transfer of funds directly or indirectly between our subsidiaries or between the parent company and our subsidiaries. We may also incur significant tax costs in connection with these transfers of funds. As a consequence, the ability of Sappi Limited or any of our subsidiaries to make scheduled payments on its debt will depend on its financial and operating performance, which will depend on various factors beyond our control, such as prevailing economic and competitive conditions. If Sappi Limited or any of our subsidiaries is unable to achieve operating results or otherwise obtain access to funds sufficient to enable it to meet its debt service obligations, it could face substantial liquidity problems. As a result, it might need to delay investments or dispose of material assets or operations. The timing of and the proceeds to be realised from any such disposition would depend upon circumstances at the time.
Labour agreements are under negotiation at several of our mills.
The Westbrook, Somerset and Muskegon Mills United Steelworkers union contracts that expired in May 2002, June 2003 and August 2005 respectively are under negotiation, and the Cloquet USW contract expires in April 2006. Collective labour agreements have been renegotiated for all sites in Europe during the fiscal 2004, with minor disruption to operations at only one site. At our southern African mills wage negotiations occur annually and in 2005 negotiations were conducted without any industrial action, despite several industry wide wage related strikes. While we hope to reach agreements on new contracts at all affected sites, in the event that agreements cannot be reached and a prolonged work stoppage that results in a curtailment of output ensues at any or all such sites, our business could be adversely affected.
Fluctuations in the value of currencies, particularly the Rand and the euro, in relation to the US dollar have in the past had and could in the future have a significant impact on our earnings in these currencies.
Exchange rates fluctuations have in the past, and may in the future, affect the competitiveness of our products in relation to the products of pulp and paper companies based in other countries.
Fluctuations in the exchange rate between currencies, particularly the Rand and euro, in relation to the US dollar have in the past significantly affected and could in the future significantly affect our earnings.
Since the adoption of the euro by the European Union on January 1, 1999 (when the euro was trading at approximately $1.18 per euro), it has fluctuated against the US dollar to approximately $1.20, $1.23 and $1.15 per euro at the end of fiscal 2005, 2004 and 2003, respectively. It reached a low of approximately $0.83 per euro on October 25, 2000 and, on December 7, 2005, was trading at approximately $1.17 per euro.
In recent years, the value of the Rand against the US dollar has fluctuated considerably. It has moved against the US dollar to approximately R6.37, R6.43 and R7.13 per US dollar at the end of fiscal 2005, 2004 and 2003, respectively. The Rand reached a low of approximately R13.90 per US dollar on December 21, 2001. Since then, it has appreciated and on December 7, 2005 was trading at approximately R6.30 per US dollar.
For further information, see notes 21 and 37 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report and Item 5Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsOperating ResultsForeign Exchange, Inflation and Interest Rates.
There are risks relating to South Africa that could affect your investment in our Company.
We are incorporated in South Africa and own operations in southern Africa. As a result, there are risks relating to South Africa, that could affect an investment in our Company. These risks arise from the fact that we are subject to various economic, fiscal, monetary, regulatory, operational and political policies and factors that affect South African companies and their subsidiaries generally. See Item 5Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsSouth African Economic and Political Environment and Item 5Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsSouth African Exchange Controls. While certain of these risks, for example regulatory and operational risks, are limited by the fact that in fiscal 2005, 26% of our sales emanated from southern Africa, 45% from Europe and 29% from North America, and 36% of our operating assets were located in southern Africa, 37% in Europe and 27% in North America, in fiscal year 2005 our operations outside southern Africa had an operating loss of $194 million and our operations in southern Africa had an operating profit of $57 million.
We face certain risks in dealing with HIV/AIDS which may have an adverse effect on our southern African operations.
There is a serious problem with HIV/AIDS infection among our southern African workforce, as there is in southern Africa generally. Although the HIV/AIDS infection rate of our southern African workforce is significantly lower than the national average, it is expected to increase over the next decade. While we have several programmes designed to mitigate the impact of the disease on our business, the costs and lost workers time associated with HIV/AIDS may adversely affect our southern African operations.
Several customers account for a significant amount of our revenues.
We sell a significant portion of our products to several major customers, including PaperlinX Ltd which acquired Buhrmann Paper Merchant Division in November 2003, Unisource Worldwide Inc. and International Paper Company. Any adverse development affecting our principal customers or our relationships with our principal customers could have an adverse effect on our business and results of
operations. See Item 4Business ReviewMarketing and DistributionSappi Fine PaperCustomers and Item 4Business ReviewMarketing and DistributionSappi Forest ProductsCustomers.
Because of the nature of our business and workforce, we are facing challenges in the retention and succession planning of management that could adversely affect our business.
We are facing an aging demographic work profile among our management due to the mature nature of our industry and the rural and often remote location of our mills, together with generally long tenure of employees at the mills. As a result we are likely to experience groups of employees leaving the company within a relatively short space of time of one another and may have difficulty attracting qualified replacements. The potential risks we face are a loss of institutional memory, skills, experience and management capabilities. Although we have put in place a number of initiatives to mitigate this risk, including implementing programs to promote phased retirement and transfer of knowledge, creating flexibility in career and job design and focussing greater effort on succession planning and talent review and effective skills training and leadership development we may be unable to attract and retain sufficient qualified replacements when and where necessary to avoid an adverse impact on our business.
Your ability to sell a substantial number of ordinary shares may be restricted by the limited liquidity of shares traded on the JSE Limited.
The principal trading market for the ordinary shares of Sappi Limited is the JSE Limited (JSE) (formerly the JSE Securities Exchange South Africa). Historically, trading volumes and liquidity of shares listed on the JSE have been low in comparison with other major international markets. In fiscal 2005, 264 million ordinary shares of Sappi Limited were traded on the JSE and 83 million ADSs were traded on the New York Stock Exchange. See Significant shareholders may be able to influence the affairs of our Company, Item 7Major Shareholders and Related Party TransactionsMajor Shareholders, Item 9The Offer and ListingOffer and Listing Details and Item 9The Offer and ListingMarkets.
Significant shareholders may be able to influence the affairs of our Company.
Although our investigation of beneficial ownership of our shares identified only four beneficial owners of more than 5% of our ordinary shares, holding approximately 25.1%, as shown in our shareholders register at September 30, 2005, the five largest shareholders of record, four of which are nominees that hold shares for a multitude of beneficial owners, owned approximately 94.7% of our ordinary shares. See Item 7Major Shareholders and Related Party TransactionsMajor Shareholders.
Sappi Limited is a public company incorporated in the Republic of South Africa. Its principal executive offices are located at 48 Ameshoff Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg 2001, Republic of South Africa and its telephone number is +27-11-407-8111.
Sappi Limited was founded and incorporated in 1936 in South Africa and is a corporation organised under the Companies Act 61 of 1973 of the Republic of South Africa.
Until 1990, we primarily expanded our operations within southern Africa. Since 1990, we have grown through acquisitions outside of southern Africa. In December 1994, Sappi and a group of financial investors acquired S.D. Warren Company, the market leader in the United States in coated fine paper and a major producer of other speciality paper products. It now conducts business as Sappi Fine Paper North America. In December 1997, we acquired a 91.5% ownership interest in KNP Leykam, the leading European producer of coated fine paper. KNP Leykam now conducts business as Sappi Fine Paper Europe. On May 13, 2002, we acquired Potlatch Corporations coated fine paper business and have integrated it in Sappi Fine Paper North America.
In December 2004 we acquired 34% of Jiangxi Chenming Paper Company, a joint venture which commissioned in mid-2005 a coated mechanical paper machine, mechanical pulp mill and deinked pulp mill in China.
For information on our principal investments and capital expenditures, see the description of our business in Business Overview and Item 5Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsLiquidity and Capital Resources.
We currently have our primary listing on the JSE and have secondary listings on the New York and London Stock Exchanges.
Our objective for the coming years is to build on our position as the global leader in the coated fine paper market, which was from the beginning of the 1990s one of the fastest growing market sectors in the paper industry, and to explore opportunities across the broad spectrum of coated paper to utilise our experience in paper coating as well as the chemical cellulose (dissolving pulp) market and to support this with a high level of economic pulp integration. These represent our core products and sectors in the paper and forest products industry. We will continue to invest in our southern African businesses which have important market shares. The key elements of our business strategy are and have been as follows:
Strengthen our leadership position in our core businesses through organic growth and selective acquisitions.
We believe that opportunities for further consolidation remain in our sector. We intend to be at the forefront of this consolidation, aiming to strengthen our position in Europe, North America, and eventually Asia. We intend to focus on investment and acquisition opportunities that fit our strategies, that offer a potential return that exceeds our expected cost of capital and that in the medium term are more advantageous than buying back our shares.
Maintain a global presence.
One of Sappis key strengths is our geographically diverse business base. We have a significant presence in each of Europe, North America and Africa, and a modest presence in Asia. The presence in Europe and North America has been built up over the past ten years, largely through strategic acquisitions. We will continue to pursue a strategy of geographic diversification supported by leading market positions.
Maintain a high level of economic pulp integration.
We intend to maintain a high level of economic pulp integration, which helps reduce the impact of pulp price volatility on our earnings.
Maintain cost efficient asset base and invest to increase efficiency/productivity.
We believe our asset base has some of the lowest cost and most efficient assets in the coated fine paper sector in the world. We maintain a rigorous focus on costs, and actively manage our asset base, including divesting or closing non-performing assets. We have closed 13 paper machines since 1995, including the recent closure of the Number 4 paper machine at Muskegon Mill.
We maintain an investment policy that is focused on high return projects. A significant portion of our investments are designed to increase production capacity, reduce costs and improve product quality.
Drive growth through market focus and innovation.
The Sappi Group operations represent the originators of many of the major innovations in the industry in the last century. We continue to maintain a focus on innovation through our research and development centres in Europe, North America and South Africa and have established multi-regional, multi-discipline teams to ensure that we transfer knowledge throughout the Group and implement best practice and that our research and development effects are market oriented. We intend to allocate additional resources to marketing, innovation and technology. This includes the recent creation of multi-regional marketing teams and their links with the relevant technology teams.
Through our partnership with a leading global software provider, we are focused on developing unique information technology solutions that satisfy our customers requirements and production capabilities, resulting in improved service delivery and operational efficiency.
The paper industry is generally divided into the printing and writing paper segment, consisting of newsprint, groundwood paper and fine paper, and the packaging segment, consisting of containerboard, boxboard and sackkraft.
Long-term, paper and board consumption has grown in line with overall economic growth, but consumption patterns are also influenced by short-term economic developments. Pricing largely is influenced by the supply/demand balance for individual products, which is partially dependent on capacity and inventory levels in the industry. The ability to adapt capacity changes in response to shorter-term fluctuations in demand is limited, as large amounts of capital are required for the construction or upgrade of production facilities and as lead times are long between the planning and completion of new facilities. Industry-wide over-investment in new production capacity has in the past led to situations of significant oversupply, which has caused product prices to decrease. This has been exacerbated by inventory speculation, as purchasers have sought to benefit from the price trend. As a result, financial performance has deteriorated during periods of significant oversupply to again improve when demand has increased to levels that support the implementation of price increases.
In recent years the industry has experienced significant strategic changes. The high costs associated with building new paper mills and establishing and growing market share has led to companies focusing on acquisition, rather than construction, of new capacity. This development has led to a reduction in events of significant dislocations in the supply/demand balance typically associated with the entry of new production capacity into established markets. Another result of this trend has been a greater concentration of production capacity among fewer producers. Many leading industry producers now focus on fewer core grades and have divested non-core assets that are not part of the industry or which have been considered not consistent with long-term strategies. The regional and global market shares of leading producers have increased significantly over the past decade.
The following table shows a breakdown and description of the major product categories Sappi participates in the products in these categories and the typical uses for such products. We have produced and sold each of these products in each of our last three fiscal years.
The following table sets forth selected pulp and paper prices in certain markets for the periods presented.
(1) 100 gsm sheets, Pulp & Paper International (PPI).
(2) 60 lb. Coated Web, PPI.
(3) 50 lb. Offset, PPI.
(4) Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft Pulp CIF Northern Europe, PPI.
(5) Selected indicative prices, Sappi.
Our fine paper activities are divided into coated and uncoated fine paper and speciality paper grades. Our coated fine paper market share in the United States, Europe and southern Africa is approximately 24%, 20% and 60%, respectively, making us the largest producer of coated fine paper in the world.
Coated Fine Paper. Coated fine paper has been one of the fastest growing market sectors in the paper industry through the 1980s and 1990s. Major end uses include high-end magazines, catalogues, brochures, annual reports and commercial printing. Coated fine paper is made from chemical pulp and is coated on one or both sides for use where high reprographic quality is required. The majority of coated fine paper production is coated on two sides, permitting quality printing on both sides of the paper. Paper
that is coated on one side is used in special applications such as consumer product and mailing label applications.
Our 2005 North American coated fine paper sales volume was 31% in sheet form and 69% in reel form. The sheet volume is largely influenced by brochure and general commercial printing activities and printers using mainly sheetfed offset lithographic printing processes, which are not particularly seasonal, and corporate annual reports, which result in heaviest demand during the first calendar quarter. Reels volume is heavily influenced by catalogue and text book activity, which results in heaviest demand during the third calendar quarter, and publication printer activity, which is not particularly seasonal. These printers principally use heatset web offset printing processes.
Our 2005 European business sales volumes of coated fine paper were 74% in sheet form and 26% in reels form. Due to the diversity in languages in the European market, the print editions of brochure and general commercial printing activities are considerably smaller than in the US market. This translates into a significantly higher volume in sheets. The seasonal patterns of both sheets and reels are mostly influenced by the catalogue business. This segment has its highest seasonal activity in the spring, when the fashion catalogues come out, and the autumn, when the Christmas catalogues and holiday brochures are printed. Commercial print and publishing business provide a more steady demand in this market.
See Item 5Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsMarkets.
Uncoated Paper. Uncoated fine paper represents the largest industry fine paper grade in terms of both global capacity and consumption. Uncoated fine paper is used for bond/writing and offset printing papers, photocopy papers, writing tablets (e.g., legal pads), speciality lightweight printing paper (e.g., bibles) and thin paper.
The market for uncoated paper products generally follows cyclical trends, which do not necessarily coincide with cycles for coated paper but are impacted by capacity changes in uncoated fine paper output levels.
Speciality Paper. The high value-added speciality paper markets in which Sappi Fine Paper operates generally follow trends in the respective end use sectors in addition to changes in production capacity, output levels and cyclical changes in the world economy. Largely due to the highly specialised nature of speciality paper, price fluctuations have historically tended to lag and be less precipitous than price changes in the uncoated fine paper market.
Our range of forest products comprises a variety of packaging papers produced in southern Africa at the Tugela, Cape Kraft and Ngodwana mills. We are one of the two major suppliers of packaging papers in South Africa.
Packaging Paper. As with fine paper, the market for packaging papers is affected by cyclical changes in the world economy, local economic growth, retail sales and by changes in production capacity and output levels. The southern African containerboard market has been positively affected by gross domestic product growth and corresponding growth in retail sales. Demand for sack kraft is largely driven by the demand for cement, potatoes, sugar and milling products. Sappis market share was negatively affected by lower priced imported products and production constraints in 2005.
Over the past decade, kraft linerboard prices have ranged from $325 to $685 per metric tonne (CIF) in Northern Europe. As of October 2005, kraft linerboard prices were approximately $448 per metric tonne in Northern Europe. In the southern Africa domestic market, we have entered into medium-term contractual commitments with converters of boxes, sacks and bags. These commitments include certain volume targets and, in some cases, as is customary in the market, fixed prices for periods of 12 months.
Newsprint. The Ngodwana mill produces newsprint. The worldwide market for newsprint is a low growth sector in the paper industry and was adversely affected during the early 1990s by substantial increased capacity and stagnating demand from, and cost-cutting measures imposed by, major newsprint end-users. Over the past decade, the price of newsprint has ranged from a low of $420 per metric tonne in the second quarter of 1992 to a high of $750 per metric tonne in the fourth quarter of 1995 and the first quarter of 1996. In recent years, a significant increase in industry consolidation has stabilised the newsprint market and reduced segment over-capacity. As a result of the slowing economy, newsprint prices started to decline in the middle of 2001 from a peak of $625 in April 2001, to a low of $445 in July 2002. As of October 2005, the price of newsprint (delivered East Coast USA) had increased to approximately $630 per metric tonne.
Coated Groundwood. Coated groundwood paper, primarily used for magazines, catalogues and advertising materials, has been one of the fastest growing paper grades in the paper industry in recent years. The segment is also one of the most consolidated segments of the paper industry. Demand for coated magazine paper is influenced by magazine circulation and demand for advertising, and by the price difference relative to coated fine paper and to uncoated groundwood paper as substitution between these grades is possible, depending on quality requirements and price levels. Western European producers are the leading producers of coated groundwood globally. Rapid capacity expansion by leading producers in the early 1990s led to volatile pricing and the development of a significant export business from Europe, primarily to North America and Asia. Pricing development has been more stable in the past three years, but prices have declined recently due to weaker demand and the start-up of new capacity in the industry.
We produce chemical cellulose, as well as a wide range of paper pulp grades, including groundwood pulp used in newsprint, unbleached kraft pulp, bleached kraft pulp and bleached sulphite pulp.
Paper Pulp. The market pulp industry is highly competitive and is sensitive to changes in industry capacity, producer inventories, demand for paper and cyclical changes in the world economy. The market price per metric tonne of northern bleached softwood kraft (NBSK) pulp, a pulp principally used for the manufacture of fine paper, is a benchmark widely used in the industry for comparative purposes. Over the past decade, the price of NBSK has ranged from $395 per metric tonne in November 1993 to $925 per metric tonne in September 1995, only to decline to $450 per metric tonne by March 1996.
NBSK market pulp prices, which increased steadily through the second half of fiscal 1997, were adversely affected during fiscal 1998 by declining pulp demand resulting from the Asian economic crisis. Pulp prices at the end of 1998 were 22% lower than at the beginning of the year. During the first quarter of 1999, pulp prices remained relatively stable at $460 per metric tonne, the lowest level since 1993. Since the end of March 1999, pulp prices increased significantly based on improved demand and limited net capacity growth. At the start of the third quarter of 2000, the NBSK market pulp price in Europe reached $710 per metric tonne. In line with the global economy, pulp demand has been low throughout 2002 and 2003 and price fluctuations have been driven primarily by supply management and the consequent impact on inventories. Accordingly, pulp prices fluctuated considerably with a difference of $125 per metric tonne between the high and low of the NBSK price during fiscal 2003. The NBSK price fluctuated between $540 and $660 in fiscal 2004 compared to $435 and $560 in fiscal 2003. Indications are that the pulp market is improving as a result of production discipline and declining market pulp inventories with the NBSK price edging up to $601 per metric tonne in November 2005.
Market unbleached kraft pulp (UKP) is used in the production of packaging papers, including kraft linerboard and sack kraft and for certain niche products such as oil and air filters. The market price of UKP generally follows the price trends of other paper pulp grades.
Chemical cellulose (dissolving pulp). The viscose staple fibre (VSF) industry which manufactures textile and non-woven fibres is the largest market segment for chemical cellulose. Prices of VSF grade chemical cellulose generally follow those of the European NBSK. Over the past decade, the price of VSF grade chemical cellulose has ranged from a high of over $1,000 per metric tonne in the fourth quarter of 1995, to a low of $470 per metric tonne in the second quarter of 2002. During the past year, prices of VSF grade chemical cellulose continued to trend upwards from this 2002 low, reaching a high of $788 per metric tonne in the quarter ended June 2005 but they have subsequently begun to retreat from that level. Prices of the higher purity chemical cellulose used in applications other than for VSF products tend to be more stable and are largely unrelated to the price of NBSK. The manufacture of cellulose acetate flake (used in the manufacture of acetate tow for cigarette filter tips) is the second largest application for chemical cellulose after viscose staple fibre. The market price for chemical cellulose used for cellulose acetate flake production has increased to levels above $900 per metric tonne and is set by competitive forces within this specific market.
Our timber products operations are concentrated in South Africa and consist of sawn timber for the building industry and components for the furniture and packaging industry.
We are the worlds largest producer of coated fine paper, with a market share of approximately 24% in the United States, 20% in Europe and greater than 60% in southern Africa. In addition, we are the worlds largest producer of chemical cellulose, with a market share of approximately 15%.
We are a geographically diverse global paper company with significant manufacturing operations on three continents and sales in over 100 countries. During fiscal 2005, we had sales of $5,018 million, operating loss of $137 million and net loss of $213 million. We currently have a paper production capacity of approximately 5.1 million metric tonnes per annum, chemical cellulose production capacity of 600,000 metric tonnes per annum and paper pulp production capacity of 3.4 million metric tonnes per annum.
Our operations are currently structured around two business units (segments):
· Sappi Fine Paper, which has fine paper and related paper pulp businesses in North America, Europe and South Africa. Pursuant to the reorganisation of our North American and European fine paper shareholding, our fine paper interests are now held by Sappi Papier Holding GmbH in Austria; and
· Sappi Forest Products, which produces commodity paper products (newsprint and packaging papers), pulp (including chemical cellulose and hardwood and softwood pulp) and forest and timber products (including pulpwood, sawlogs and sawn timber) for southern Africa and export markets. Sappi Forest Products is based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
We also operate a trading network for the international marketing and distribution of our products outside our core operating regions of North America, Europe and southern Africa. Our trading operation, which we refer to as Sappi Trading, co-ordinates our shipping and other logistical functions for exports from southern Africa, Europe and North America through subsidiaries in South Africa, Europe and in the United States, respectively. All sales and costs associated with Sappi Trading are allocated to the two business units.
The markets for our pulp and paper products are significantly affected by changes in industry capacity and output levels and by cyclical changes in the world economy. For further information, see Information on the CompanyBusiness OverviewThe Pulp and Paper Industry and Item 5Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsOperating Results.
The chart set forth below represents the operational rather than the legal or ownership structure of Sappi as of November 2005. Units shown are not necessarily legal entities.
The following table sets forth certain information with respect to our operations for, or as at the end of, the year ended September 2005.
(1) Operating assets as defined in note 38 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
Sappi Fine Paper is the largest business sector of Sappi and contributed over 80% of our sales in fiscal 2005. It has the capacity to produce 4.2 million metric tonnes of paper per annum at its 15 paper and related paper pulp mills located on three continents. Sappi Fine Paper manages its business in three principal regions: Sappi Fine Paper North America, Sappi Fine Paper Europe and Sappi Fine Paper South Africa. Sappi Fine Paper also manages the Nash mill in the United Kingdom, which operates as a separate business.
The following chart sets forth certain information with respect to the mills and principal products of Sappi Fine Paper as of November 2005.
The following table sets forth approximate annual production capacity with respect to Sappi Fine Papers products.
(1) Excludes the Number 4 paper machine and the mothballed pulp mill at Muskegon.
(2) Includes the Nash mill under uncoated.
(3) Includes coated fine paper, coated groundwood paper and speciality papers.
(4) Includes 30,000 metric tonnes of tissue manufactured at the Stanger mill in South Africa and 14,000 metric tonnes of kraft manufactured at the Enstra and Adamas mills in South Africa.
(5) Includes pulp used internally and pulp sold.
(6) Sappi Forest Products provides most of the additional pulp requirements of our South African fine paper operations.
Sappi Fine Paper North America
Sappi Fine Paper North America is a leading producer and supplier of coated fine paper in the United States with a market share of approximately 24%. Sappi Fine Paper North America also produces a variety of other fine paper, including coated speciality paper.
Sappi Fine Paper North America is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, and operates four paper mills in the United States in Somerset, Maine; Muskegon, Michigan; Westbrook, Maine; and Cloquet, Minnesota. These four mills have a total annual production capacity of approximately 1.2 million metric tonnes of paper and a capacity of approximately 0.9 million metric tonnes of paper pulp, which represents approximately 102% of Sappi Fine Paper North American pulp requirements. This significantly reduces Sappi Fine Paper North Americas exposure to fluctuations in the price of market pulp that are not driven by fluctuations in wood or other major raw material prices. In July 2005, we announced the closure of the Number 4 paper machine and the mothballing of the pulp mill at Muskegon, which had an annual production capacity of 105,000 metric tonnes of paper and 110,000 metric tonnes of pulp, respectively.
Coated paper accounted for approximately 79% of Sappi Fine Paper North Americas sales in fiscal 2005. Speciality paper and pulp accounted for the remaining 21%.
The following table sets forth sales by product for our North American operations, including contribution from the closed Muskegon assets.
(1) Includes sales for the Number 4 paper machine at Muskegon mill.
(2) Other consists primarily of market pulp.
For the year ended September 2005, Sappi Fine Paper North America sold approximately 1,433,000 metric tonnes of paper and pulp products. The following table sets forth, as of September 2005, the production capacity, number of paper machines, products, pulp integration and capital expenditures at each of our continuing mills in North America.
(1) Includes pulp sold to third parties.
Cloquet. The Cloquet mill has two paper machines and an offline coater, producing premium coated paper. The newest machine and coater were installed in 1988 and 1989, respectively. The pulp mill started up by the previous owner in 2000 at a total cost of $525 million and is the newest pulp mill in the United States. The Cloquet paper machines have an annual production capacity of 260,000 metric tonnes of coated paper, and the state-of-the-art pulp mill has an annual production capacity of 410,000 metric tonnes.
Somerset. The Somerset mill is a low-cost producer and has an annual production capacity of approximately 760,000 metric tonnes of paper and approximately 490,000 metric tonnes of pulp. The pulp mill was built in 1976, and Somerset became an integrated facility with the completion of Paper Machine 1 (PM1) in 1982. Each of the three paper machines at the Somerset facility employs Sappi Fine Paper North Americas patented on-line coating and finishing technology. This technology combines the three steps (paper making, coating and finishing) in the manufacture of coated paper into one continuous process. It is well suited for the lightweight coated papers produced at Somerset, because it allows the production of high gloss, consistent quality products at high speeds.
Muskegon. The Muskegon mill consists of one continuing paper machine with an annual winder capacity of approximately 170,000 metric tonnes of text and cover weight coated paper using Sappi Fine Paper North Americas on-line finishing technology. On July 28, 2005, we announced the closure of the Number 4 paper machine and the mothballing of the pulp mill at Muskegon, which had an annual production capacity of 105,000 metric tonnes of paper and 110,000 metric tons of pulp, respectively.
Westbrook. Westbrook is Sappi Fine Paper North Americas original mill, with origins dating back to 1854. After the closure of one of its paper machines, the mill is primarily a speciality paper production facility with an annual capacity of 30,000 metric tonnes of coated fine and casting release paper. Its paper machine primarily produces base paper, which is coated off-line. Westbrook also has six speciality coaters, including four employing Sappi Fine Paper North Americas patented Ultracast® process. This process uses an electron beam to cure coating against a finely engraved steel roll, resulting in a virtually exact replication of the roll pattern. Sappi Fine Paper North America also has a research and development facility at Westbrook.
Sappi Fine Paper North America also operates a coated paper sheeting and distribution facility in Allentown, Pennsylvania, which was completed in 1994 and has an annual sheeting capacity of approximately 100,000 metric tonnes. The Allentown facility produces sheet paper primarily for the Cloquet mill.
Sappi Fine Paper Europe
Sappi Fine Paper is a leading producer of coated fine paper in Europe with a market share of approximately 20% and a producer of commercial printing paper, coated groundwood paper and speciality paper used in packaging, labelling and laminating and a branded range of uncoated printing and business paper. Sappi Fine Paper Europes operations consist of seven mills with an aggregate annual production capacity of approximately 2.7 million metric tonnes of paper and 670,000 metric tonnes of related paper pulp. Sappi Fine Paper Europes headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium.
The following table sets forth sales by product for our Sappi Fine Paper Europe operations, including contribution from the Nash mill.
(1) Includes sales for the Nash mill, which contributed $42 million of sales (31,651 metric tonnes) in fiscal 2005, $44 million of sales (33,650 metric tonnes) in fiscal 2004 and $41 million of sales (33,820 metric tonnes) in fiscal 2003.
(2) Includes coated mechanical paper produced at Lanaken mill.
For the year ended September 2005, Sappi Fine Paper Europe sold approximately 2,427,000 metric tonnes of paper and pulp products. The following table sets forth the annual production capacity, number of paper machines, products, pulp integration and capital expenditures at each of Sappi Fine Paper Europes mills in Europe.
(1) Includes pulp sold to third parties.
Alfeld. The Alfeld mill is located to the south of Hannover, Germany, and its origins date back to 1706. It has a paper production capacity of approximately 360,000 metric tonnes and a pulp production capacity of approximately 120,000 metric tonnes per annum. It produces coated fine and speciality paper products, which are mainly coated and have a variety of finishes. In 1995 a major rebuild of Alfelds Paper Machine 3 (PM3) was completed, enhancing the production of low substance flexible packaging papers. Alfelds PM3 employs a fully integrated concept of in-line coating and calendaring. The Alfeld mill produces totally chlorine-free (TCF) bleached sulphite pulp for its own use. In early 2002, a rebuild of Alfelds Paper Machine 2 (PM2) was completed. Alfeld spent approximately 50 million on the rebuild of PM2.
Ehingen. The Ehingen mill is located to the southeast of Stuttgart, Germany, and was acquired by Hannover Papier, predecessor entity to Sappi Alfeld, in 1987. A paper machine with a capacity of 180,000 metric tonnes per annum of coated fine paper was commissioned in July 1991, expanding Ehingen from a market pulp mill into an integrated pulp and paper mill. During 1994 the construction of a high-rack warehouse was completed. As a result of upgrades during 1994 and 1996, Ehingens total paper capacity was increased to 235,000 metric tonnes per annum. The pulp mills capacity is currently 135,000 metric tonnes per annum of TCF bleached sulphite pulp. The pulp is produced mainly for internal use, but is also sold to third party customers.
Gratkorn. Paper has been produced at the Gratkorn, Austria, site for more than four centuries. In course of a major expansion and renovation project the Gratkorn mill has been transformed from a five-machine mill into a two-machine mill. As a result of this project, Gratkorn now has an annual capacity of 860,000 metric tonnes of triple-coated fine paper on just two paper machines and 250,000 metric tonnes of
TCF chemical pulp. The machines at Gratkorn are among the largest and most efficient paper machines in the world. After recent extension of Gratkorns sheeting plant it also has an annual sheet finishing capacity of 800,000 metric tonnes.
Maastricht. The Maastricht, Netherlands, mill has the capacity to produce over 320,000 metric tonnes per annum of coated fine paper and board and one-side coated paper used primarily for printing labels. Paper was first produced in Maastricht in 1852. Paper Machine 6 (PM6), which was installed at Maastricht in 1962, was first rebuilt in 1977. In 1996, PM6 underwent an extensive NLG224 million ( 102 million) rebuild. Maastricht specialises in high basis-weight triple-coated fine paper and board for graphics applications. PM6s production complements that of the Gratkorn mill, which produces lower weight coated fine paper. Paper Machine 5 (PM5) at Maastricht was constructed in 1952. It underwent a rebuild in 1995, when it was reconfigured at a total cost, including the related upgrade of PM5s entire line, of $13 million and a further upgrading in 2001. Following the reconfiguration, PM5 is utilised as a dedicated one-side coated speciality paper machine.
Nijmegen. The Nijmegen, Netherlands, mill began operations in 1955 and operates one paper machine. The mill specialises in the production of reels of coated fine paper for web offset printing. It also produces special coated fine paper for use in digital printing. The Nijmegen mill was upgraded in 2001. The upgrade increased its capacity by 40,000 metric tonnes per annum. With an annual production capacity of 240,000 metric tonnes, the Nijmegen mill is one of Europes largest suppliers of coated fine web offset paper. Rotary, or web, offset paper is used for commercial printing and publishing.
Nijmegen and Neusiedler AG, an Austrian, paper company, terminated their joint venture to operate an 80,000 metric tonnes capacity sheeting centre in the course of 2001 and have closed the related facility.
Lanaken. The Lanaken, Belgium, mill began commercial operations in 1966. It produces coated groundwood paper and lower weight wood-containing coated paper for offset printing. Coated groundwood paper for web offset presses is used primarily in the production of advertising materials and magazines. Lanakens two paper machines have a total annual capacity of 490,000 metric tonnes. One machine principally produces coated groundwood paper. It was completely overhauled in 1992, and an additional off-line coater was installed to provide triple coating capability. The other paper machine produces lower-weight wood-containing paper. Its capacity was increased to 285,000 metric tonnes per annum as a result of an optimisation process during the mid-1990s. Lanaken produces chemo-thermo-mechanical pulp (CTMP) in an integrated plant which has been extended to an annual capacity of 165,000 metric tonnes in 2003. This enables the mill to supply approximately 52% of its fibre requirements for paper production.
Blackburn. The Blackburn, England, mill was established in 1875, and has been a major producer of cast coated paper. The Blackburn mill was rebuilt completely in 1996. In May 2000, we sold our Astralux brand of cast coated papers produced at the mill to the Favini Group in Italy. The production of cast coated papers at the Blackburn mill ceased at the end of May 2000. The Blackburn mill will continue to focus on its main business, the production of coated fine paper in reels.
Nash. The Nash mill in Hemel Hempstead, England, has been operating as a paper mill since the 1800s and manufactures a variety of different grades of paper and board. The mills principal products are its branded and watermarked business papers, sold under the Croxley brand name, and its wide range of white and coloured boards, sold under the Vanguard brand name. The mill has the capacity to produce 30,000 metric tonnes of paper and board per annum.
Mill Ownership. Until mid-2003 we held our German mills through a 99.9% interest in Sappi Alfeld, formerly known as Hannover Papier. Sappi Ehingen, which owned the Ehingen mill, was 95% owned by Sappi Alfeld. Notwithstanding that the remaining interests were publicly held, an agreement between Sappi Alfeld and Sappi Ehingen provided us with effective control over the cash flow in these businesses.
In mid-2003, we acquired the minority holdings in the German mills and now hold 100% ownership interests in the Alfeld, Ehingen, Gratkorn, Lanaken, Maastricht, Nijmegen, Blackburn and Nash mills.
Sappi Fine Paper South Africa
Sappi Fine Paper, through Sappi Fine Paper South Africa, produces and markets a wide range of coated, uncoated and speciality papers as well as crêped tissue and fibreboard in South Africa. Sappi Fine Paper South Africa is headquartered in Johannesburg. In the uncoated fine paper sector, where we have approximately 53% market share, Sappi Fine Paper operates one integrated pulp and uncoated paper mill, Enstra (located near Johannesburg). Stanger (located north of Durban) uses bagasse (the fibrous residue of sugar cane) to produce coated fine paper and tissue. A smaller paper mill, Adamas (located in Port Elizabeth) utilises pulp from our pulp mills and waste paper to produce speciality paper and some kraft products. Sappi Fine Paper South Africa is the only producer of coated fine paper in South Africa.
The following table sets forth sales by product for our Sappi Fine Paper South Africa operations.
The following table sets forth the annual paper production capacity, number of machines, products, pulp integration and capital expenditures at each of the mills of Sappi Fine Paper South Africa.
Enstra. The Enstra mill is the largest mill of Sappi Fine Paper South Africa, with a capacity of approximately 200,000 metric tonnes of elemental chlorine-free uncoated fine paper products per annum. In 1996, the Enstra mill completed a $96 million capital expenditure programme. This programme increased capacity by 50,000 metric tonnes per annum and has resulted in improved production efficiency and product quality. The product range at the Enstra mill caters to the business forms, scholastic, office, envelope and general printing industries. The mill has a capacity of 100,000 metric tonnes per annum of bleached hardwood pulp. The mill uses an oxygen bleaching process, which is a process that was developed at the mill in the 1970s and has since become the industry standard.
Stanger. The Stanger mill commenced operations in 1976. It is unique in South Africa in that it uses bagasse as its basic raw material to produce high quality matte and gloss coated art papers and tissue. Art paper is used for high quality books and magazines, brochures, annual reports and labels. A $26 million upgrade of the mills paper machine was completed in August 2001, increasing the coated paper capacity to
80,000 metric tonnes per annum. The mill also produces 30,000 metric tonnes of tissue per annum and has a capacity of 60,000 metric tonnes of bleached bagasse pulp per annum.
Adamas. The Adamas mill is a small speciality mill. It produces high quality, uncoated prestige papers and boards in a variety of colours and embossing patterns. The mill also produces packaging and industrial grades from waste paper. The mill has a capacity of 40,000 metric tonnes of paper per annum. This mill purchases wastepaper and bleached pulp from other mills in the Sappi Group.
The further integration of our international marketing and distribution efforts is one of our main strategic objectives. In order to attain this objective, we have adopted a system whereby the marketing and distribution of our fine paper products is performed by our operating business in the respective region, supplemented by a trading network outside these core regions.
Our trading network, Sappi Trading, co-ordinates the international marketing and distribution of our fine paper products outside our core regions. Sappi Trading operates in Hong Kong (China), Sydney (Australia), Johannesburg (South Africa), Shanghai (China), Singapore, Zurich (Switzerland), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Mexico City (Mexico), Kenya and Zimbabwe. It also manages a network of agents around the world handling exports to over 100 countries.
We sell the vast majority of our coated and uncoated fine paper through merchants. We also sell paper directly to converters. We generally deliver products sold to converters from the mill or via a distribution warehouse. Electronic business-to-business interaction has become more important to us, and we will continue to focus on increasing service and efficiency through business-to-business interaction. The systems and structures have been put in place to actively continue these efforts.
Merchants are authorised to distribute Sappi Fine Papers products by geographic area and to carry competitors product lines to cover all segments of the market. Merchants perform numerous functions, including holding inventory, sales promotion and marketing, taking credit risk on sales and delivery, and distribution of the products. Merchants buy paper from Sappi Fine Paper and resell it, placing a mark-up on their purchase price. A merchant may either deliver to the customer from its own stock or arrange for delivery directly from the mill or one of Sappi Fine Paper distribution warehouses.
Sappi Fine Paper North Americas coated paper sales structure is organised in 6 regions with sales representatives located in all major market areas, and 7 technical representatives located in different regions in North America supporting the sales effort.
Approximately 6.0% of Sappi Fine Paper North Americas coated fine paper sales for fiscal 2005 were outside North America. Sappi Fine Paper North Americas sales outside North America are handled in southern Africa by Sappi Fine Paper South Africa, in Europe by Sappi Fine Paper Europe and by Sappi Trading outside those regions.
In 2005, the Sappi Fine Paper North America sales force sold coated graphic paper to approximately 400 merchant distribution locations. By selling exclusively through merchant channels, Sappi Fine Paper North America believes it has created a loyal group of merchant customers. Rather than competing with merchant distributors, the Sappi Fine Paper North America sales force focuses on generating demand with key printers, publishers and end users, which are then serviced by the merchant distributors.
In the United States, we market speciality paper through a dedicated speciality paper sales team directly to customers. Sappi Fine Paper North America also sells paper directly to large users of coated
technical products utilising a dedicated sales team. The special end-use requirements often require a paper made to fit the customers specific application.
As part of the formation of Sappi Fine Paper in April 1998, the sales and marketing operations of Sappi Fine Paper Europe were reorganised into graphic paper, comprising printing and writing paper, and speciality paper, comprising paper for labelling, packaging and other speciality uses.
The sales division of the graphic paper unit is responsible for all sales of coated fine and groundwood papers in Europe. This includes European sales on behalf of Sappi Fine Paper North America and Sappi Fine Paper South Africa. It is also responsible for export sales to markets outside Europe. Sappi Fine Paper Europes graphic products are distributed primarily by merchants. The export sales office manages exports to markets outside Europe through Sappi Trading, Sappi Fine Paper North America and Sappi Fine Paper South Africa.
Sappi Fine Paper Europes centralised logistics department was formed in early 1998. It is responsible for the development and optimisation of the logistics of the graphic and speciality papers business units and the re-engineering of the supply chain.
Sappi Fine Paper South Africa
Sappi Fine Paper South Africa has a marketing and sales and technical support team based in four major centres in South Africa. Approximately 22% of the sales of Sappi Fine Paper South Africa in fiscal 2005 were outside of southern Africa to markets in Europe, Africa, Asia and North and Latin America. The products of Sappi Fine Paper South Africa are distributed in southern Africa primarily through merchants. In addition, some large volume orders are sold directly to printers and converters.
Sappi Fine Paper sells its products to a large number of customers, many of whom have long-standing relationships with us. These customers include merchants, converters and other direct consumers.
The most significant merchant customers, based on sales during fiscal 2005, include:
North America: Xpedx (a division of International Paper Company), Unisource Worldwide, Inc. (a majority interest of which was sold to Bain Capital Corporation) and Lindenmeyr Paper Company (owned by Central National Gottesman Inc.) and a select number of regionally strong merchants;
Europe: PaperlinX (acquired the Buhrmann Paper Merchant Division in November 2003), IGEPA (Germany), Antalis Limited (a subsidiary of the Worms & Cie) and IGEPA group (including Pap de France and Scaldia NL); and
Only one of these merchant distributors, PaperlinX (who acquired the Buhrmann Paper Merchant Division in November 2003), represented more than 10% of our total sales during fiscal 2005. See note 37 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for more information.
Sappi Fine Papers converter customers include both multinational and regional converters. The most significant converter customers, based on sales during fiscal 2005, include: VanLeer, Fasson, Jackstadt, VAW Flexible Packaging, Alcan, UCB Transpac, Lawson Mardon Packaging and Perstop. These customers use our products in the production of pressure sensitive and other types of labels as well as flexible packaging. Nampak, the CTP Group of companies, Paarl Media:Lithotech, Merpak and Freedom
and Silvery are also significant converter customers. These companies use our products in the production of packaging products. No converter customer, however, represented more than 10% of our total sales during fiscal 2005.
Merchant sales constitute the majority of our fine paper sales. Pricing of fine products is generally subject to change upon notice of 30 days with longer notice periods (typically 3 to 6 months) for some large end-use customers. Sales to converters may be subject to longer notice periods, which would generally not exceed 12 months. We have long-standing relationships with most of our customers, with volume and pricing generally agreed on a quarterly basis.
Although the markets for pulp and paper have regional characteristics, they are highly competitive international markets involving a large number of producers located around the world.
Pulp and paper are subject to relatively low tariff protection in major markets, with existing tariff protections being further reduced under the World Trade Organization (WTO). In South Africa, for example, no tariffs are imposed on imports of pulp and newsprint. Tariffs on most other paper products under the WTO are 7% and will decline to 5% over time.
In 1999, South Africa entered into a free trade agreement with the European Union, which is intended to remove tariffs on 90% of bilateral trade over a twelve-year period. The implementation of this agreement has commenced. We do not anticipate that the agreement will have any material impact on our business in the short term. In the long term, however, we expect that the agreement will lead to increasing pricing pressure from imports, which could have a material impact on our pricing structure in South Africa. Pursuant to the agreement, import duties on coated and uncoated woodfree fine products from member states of the European Union currently stands at 0%, as per the current Jacobsens Import Tarriffs. Corresponding duties on South African products imported in member states of the European Union will also be phased out over a period of seven to twelve years.
Competition in markets for our products is primarily based on price, quality, service, breadth of product line, product innovation and sales and distribution support. The speciality paper market puts greater emphasis on product innovation and quality as well as technical considerations. The packaging paper and newsprint markets place more emphasis on price.
The major domestic coated fine producers which compete with Sappi Fine Paper in North America are NewPage (formerly part of MeadWestvaco and now owned by Cerberus), Stora Enso and International Paper Company. In addition, approximately 29% of US consumption is supplied by foreign producers, primarily Asian and European.
Recent merger and acquisition activity in the European pulp and paper industry includes: in 2004, the merger of Italian papermakers Cartiere Burgo and Holding Gruppo Marchi, now known as the Burgo-Marchi Group, and in 2002, M-reals (previously Metsä-Serla) consolidation of its ownership of Zanders to 100%; the Italian Marchi Groups acquisition of more than 23% equity stake in Cartiere Burgo, M-reals sale of its 50% share in Albbruck paper mill to Myllykoski; and UPM-Kymmenes acquisition of Haindl (a German magazine paper producer).
The market leaders in coated fine paper production in Europe are Sappi, M-real, Stora Enso, Burgo-Marchi Group, UPM-Kymmene and CVC Partners (Lecta).
Mondi Paper Company Limited is a significant competitor of Sappi Fine Paper in southern Africa in the uncoated fine paper sector. Coated fine imports, primarily from Europe and Asia, have gained an increased share of the southern African fine paper market, after the lifting of sanctions and boycotts against South Africa in the early 1990s and as a result of declining import duties. A substantial part of the imports originate from Sappi Fine Papers European mills.
Sappi Forest Products, headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, is an integrated pulp, packaging paper and timber products producer. Sappi Forest Products operates five pulp and paper mills and one sawmill and is managed in three operating divisions: Sappi Saiccor, Sappi Kraft and Sappi Forests.
Sappi Forest Products is a major pulp and paper producer in Africa with a production capacity of 830,000 metric tonnes of paper, 600,000 metric tonnes of chemical cellulose and 1,090,000 metric tonnes of paper pulp per annum. It is also a major timber grower and manages approximately 541,000 hectares of forestland, of which, approximately 395,000 hectares is planted with primarily pine and eucalyptus. This represents about 28% of the southern African timberlands and supplies approximately 78% of our southern African pulpwood and sawlog requirements.
The following chart sets forth certain information with respect to the mills and principal products of Sappi Forest Products as of November 2005.
The following table sets forth sales by product for Sappi Forest Products operations:
(1) Includes newsprint and packaging products.
(2) Excludes sales related to paper pulp produced by Sappi Fine Paper facilities.
Sappi Forest Products sold approximately 3,302,000 metric tonnes of paper, pulp and forest products during the year ended September 2005.
The following table sets forth annual production capacity with respect to Sappi Forest Products products:
(1) Excludes production capacity related to paper pulp produced by Sappi Fine Paper facilities.
(2) Represents 78,000 cubic metres.
(3) Excludes pulp produced by Sappi Saiccor. Our southern African operations are net sellers of pulp.
Sappi Saiccor was established in 1951 and acquired by us in 1988. It is a low-cost producer and the worlds largest single producer of chemical cellulose. In 1995, we completed an approximately $221 million expansion project to increase capacity by one third to approximately 600,000 metric tonnes per annum. Capital expenditures during the period from October 2002 to September 2005 were approximately $39 million.
Virtually all of Sappi Saiccors chemical cellulose production is exported from South Africa and marketed and distributed internationally by Sappi Trading. The pulp we principally produce is the type used in the manufacture of a variety of cellulose products, including viscose staple fibres (rayon) and solvent spun fibres (lyocell). Both viscose and lyocell fibres are used in the manufacture of fashion and decorating textiles which have a soft, natural feel and excellent breathing properties. Given their
particularly high absorbency properties, these fibres are also used in non-woven applications in the healthcare, industrial and disposable product markets. Chemical cellulose is also used in the manufacture of acetate flake, which is used in products such as filter tow for cigarette filters, and high quality yarns and fabrics. It is also used to manufacture microcrystalline cellulose, which is used as a rheological modifier in the food industry, a tableting agent in the pharmaceutical industry, and in various ethers for the chemical industry. It is also used to manufacture cellophane film for use in a variety of packaging applications.
The mills timber consumption is comprised primarily of eucalyptus hardwoods. These fast growing trees are grown in relatively close proximity to the mill, which contributes to Sappi Saiccors position as a low cost producer of chemical cellulose.
Based upon volume sold in fiscal 2005, Sappi Kraft supplies approximately 55% of South Africas packaging paper requirements, other than cartonboard, from its Ngodwana, Tugela and Cape Kraft mills.
The following chart sets forth the annual paper production capacity, number of machines, products, pulp integration and capital expenditures at each of Sappi Krafts mills in South Africa.
(1) Excludes pulp produced from recycled paper by the respective plants at the mills.
(2) Cape Krafts raw material requirements are met from waste fibre supplied by Sappi Waste Paper.
Ngodwana. Ngodwana was expanded between 1981 and 1985 from an unbleached kraft mill with a capacity of 100,000 metric tonnes per annum to a modernised mill with a capacity of approximately 240,000 metric tonnes of linerboard and 140,000 metric tonnes of newsprint per annum. The linerboard machine also produces White Top Liner (included in total linerboard capacity). The mill produces nearly 410,000 metric tonnes of bleached and unbleached pulp and 100,000 metric tonnes of groundwood pulp annually. The mill markets paper and excess pulp locally and in the export market. The mill is a large consumer of waste paper, which is used in the production of packaging paper. In 1995 the mill commissioned the worlds first ozone bleaching plant, thus eliminating the use of elemental chlorine and significantly reducing mill effluent.
Tugela. Tugela is Sappi Krafts largest integrated unbleached kraft mill, with a capacity of approximately 390,000 metric tonnes of packaging paper per annum. The mill supplies kraft linerboard and corrugating medium and most of South Africas requirements for sackkraft, used in the production of multiwall sacks. Machine glazed packaging papers are also produced at the mill. The Kraft Linerboard
machine was upgraded in 1996 at a cost of approximately $81 million and the Sack Kraft machine and components of the pulp plant were upgraded in 2003/4 at a cost of approximately $50 million. It is the only mill in South Africa to offer high performance containerboard packaging and extensible Sack Kraft.
Cape Kraft. The Cape Kraft mill was built during 1980, commissioned in 1981 and upgraded in 1995. The mill presently has a capacity of 60,000 metric tonnes of linerboard and corrugating medium per annum, which it sells principally to the corrugating industry in the Western Cape. The mill uses approximately 67,000 metric tonnes per annum of waste paper to produce 60,000 metric tonnes per annum of paper. The fact that the mills product is produced from 100% recycled paper can provide a competitive edge in our markets, which are becoming increasingly environmentally aware.
Usutu Pulp. As of October 2000, we have a 100% ownership interest in the Usutu Pulp Company Limited. Usutu Pulp began production in 1961 and has been managed by us since 1989. The mill was upgraded during 1995 and 1996 at a cost of approximately $69 million. During the period from October 2002 to September 2005, an additional $16 million was invested. The mill has a capacity of 230,000 metric tonnes of unbleached kraft pulp and supplies approximately 9% of the world market for unbleached market kraft pulp (based upon tonnes sold in 2005). The mill is situated in Swaziland and is surrounded by 70,000 hectares of forestlands, which it leases from the Swazi nation under a long-term lease extendable to 2089. The location of these forestlands, combined with the very compact areas the trees are planted on, provides for low wood delivery costs. See -Supply Requirements-Southern Africa-Wood for more information.
Sappi Kraft also manages Sappi Waste Paper. Sappi Waste Paper collected approximately 217,000 metric tonnes of waste paper in fiscal 2005. Most of the waste paper collected was supplied to our mills. Waste represents approximately 30% of the fibre requirements of our packaging grades.
Sappi Forests, together with Usutu Forests, supplies or procures all of Sappi Forest Products and Sappi Fine Paper South Africas domestic pulpwood requirements of approximately 6 million metric tonnes per annum. 87% of the pulpwood comes from owned or contracted sources. Together they manage or control, through contracts, about 541,000 hectares of land situated in Mpumalanga (44%), KwaZulu-Natal (43%) and Swaziland (13%). Securing raw material for the future is a vital element in the long-term planning of Sappi Forest Products business. Sappi Forests has an extensive research operation which concentrates on programmes to improve the yield per hectare of forestland used. Significant progress has been made in developing faster-growing trees with enhanced fibre yields. Sophisticated nurseries have been developed to accommodate the seedling requirements of Sappi Forest Products operations. Approximately 48 million seedlings are grown annually at Sappi Forests and Usutu Forests nurseries.
Sappi Forests and Usutu Forests have invested approximately $127 million in maintaining, acquiring and expanding plantations and an additional $9 million in other capital expenditure projects in the period from October 2002 to September 2005.
As of October 1, 2000, following the sale of Novobord, Sappi Timber Industries ceased to exist, and the mining timber and sawmill divisions were incorporated into Sappi Forests. The sawmill division operates one mill with a total production capacity of 78,000 cubic metres per annum of structural timber for the building industry and components for the furniture and packaging industry.
Pursuant to our strategy of disposing of non-core assets, the mining timber division, which produced mine support systems for the South African mining industry, was sold on October 1, 2000 to Business Venture Investment No. 336 (Pty) Ltd, a company owned by the mining timber division management. We
also sold Boskor sawmill on February 10, 2003 to a Cape-based door and window manufacturer and shut down Clan sawmill on September 30, 2003.
Each of Sappi Forest Products divisions with major South African markets has its own marketing and sales team. Sappi Trading manages the exports of the Sappi Forest Products divisions, in particular the marketing and distribution of the market pulp produced at Saiccor and Usutu.
Sappi Forest Products sells its products to a large number of customers, including merchants, converters, printers and other direct customers, many of whom have long-standing relations with us.
The most significant converter customers, based on sales in fiscal 2005, include: The CTP Group and Media 24, which uses Sappi Forest Products newsprint; Nampak Limited; Mondipak; APL (Pty) Ltd and Houers Co-operative. A significant number of the viscose staple fibre manufacturers around the world purchase chemical cellulose from Sappi Forest Products, including large groups such as the Aditya Birla Group and the Lenzing Group. Most of our chemical cellulose (dissolving pulp) sales contracts are multi-year contracts with pricing generally based on a formula linked to the NBSK price and reset on a quarterly basis.
Approximately 51% of the total sales of Sappi Forest Products during fiscal 2005 consisted of export sales.
Mondi Paper Company Limited is a significant competitor in most of the markets in which Sappi Forest Products operates in southern Africa. In recent years the regional recycled containerboard capacity has increased by approximately 60,000 metric tonnes. Due to exchange rate fluctuations a number of offshore containerboard suppliers have also entered the southern African packaging markets. In respect of chemical cellulose, competitors include Borregaard ChemCell Atisholz, Tembec Inc., Western Pulp Inc., Buckeye Technologies Inc. and Rayonier Inc.
The principal supply requirements for the manufacture of our products are wood, pulp, energy and chemicals. Large amounts of water are also required for the manufacture of pulp and paper products. See Environmental and Safety MattersEnvironmental MattersSouthern Africa. We believe that we have adequate sources of these and other raw materials and supplies necessary for the manufacture of pulp and paper for the foreseeable future.
In connection with the 1998 sale of our US timberlands to Plum Creek Timber Company L.P., Sappi Fine Paper North America and Plum Creek are parties to a fibre supply agreement with an initial term expiring in December 2023 and with three five-year renewal options. Under the supply agreement, Sappi Fine Paper North America is required to purchase from Plum Creek and Plum Creek is required to sell to Sappi Fine Paper North America a guaranteed annual minimum of 318,000 metric tonnes of hardwood pulpwood, or approximately 10% of Sappi Fine Paper North Americas annual requirements, at prices calculated based on a formula tied to market prices. Sappi Fine Paper North America has the option to purchase additional quantities of hardwood pulpwood harvested from these timberlands at prices generally higher than the ones paid for the guaranteed quantities. The remainder of Sappi Fine Paper North Americas wood requirements is met through market purchases.
Sappi Fine Paper North Americas mills, taken together, are fully integrated on an economic basis with respect to hardwood pulp usage. Mills that are not fully integrated make market purchases, and mills that produce more pulp than they utilise make market sales.
Sappi Fine Paper North America currently offers recycled products in most coated grade lines. It uses reprocessed fibres recovered from its existing operations and purchases de-inked post consumer waste pulp to meet market requirements for recycled products.
Sappi Fine Paper North America manufactures, in aggregate, pulp and fibre equivalent to approximately 98% of its own pulp and fibre requirements. This vertical integration reduces its exposure to fluctuations in the market price for pulp.
Sappi Fine Paper North Americas energy requirements are satisfied through wood and by-products derived from the pulping process, coal, oil, purchased electricity, purchased steam, natural gas and other sources.
A substantial majority of Sappi Fine Paper North Americas electricity requirements are satisfied through its own electricity generation or co-generation agreements. In July 2002, Sappi Fine Paper North America entered a series of contracts with Central Maine Power (CMP) and a third party energy provider. The contracts provide that Somerset sell all of its excess generated power to CMP and purchase all of its power needs beyond its generation capacity from the third party provider, each at market rates. The agreements expire in 2012. Sappi Fine Paper North America also has an agreement, expiring on February 28, 2007, with a third party pursuant to which the Westbrook mill sells any excess electricity it co-generates.
The Cloquet mill, is supplied partly with internally generated electricity. The Cloquet mill includes a hydroelectric facility that is licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In addition to generating a portion of its own power, the Cloquet mill has entered into a take-or-pay agreement to purchase a portion of its power from Minnesota Power, which terminates in 2008.
Major chemicals used by Sappi Fine Paper North America include clays, carbonates, latices and plastic pigments, titanium dioxide, caustic soda, other pulping and bleaching chemicals and chemicals for the specialty business. Sappi Fine Paper North America purchases these chemicals from a variety of suppliers. There are generally adequate sources of supply, and in no case is Sappi Fine Paper North America dependent upon a sole source of supply. However, chemical supplies have tightened due to the rationalization of capacity over the last several years. In addition, some suppliers have limited supplies of chemicals as a result of the hurricanes in the south eastern United States during the fall of 2005. Most of these chemicals are subject to price fluctuations based upon a number of factors, including energy and crude oil prices and transportation costs, and commodity demand vs. supply imbalances.
Sappi Fine Paper Europe purchases approximately 2,500,000 cubic metres of pulpwood per annum for its pulp mills. The wood is purchased both on contract and in the open market. Wood supply contracts are fixed for one year in terms of volumes. Price agreements range from three months for wood chips to one year for logwood.
The wood logs and wood chips used in the Gratkorn TCF pulp mill are purchased through the Papierholz Austria GmbH joint venture arrangement amongst Sappi, the Norske Skog Bruck mill and the Frantschach Group. We hold a 42.5% ownership interest in Papierholz.
The wood chips used in the Lanaken CTMP plant are purchased through Sapin S.A. (Sapin), a 50%-50% joint venture company operated together with Norske Skog. Sapin was initially formed on November 25, 1986, pursuant to a joint venture agreement between Sappi Lanaken and Parenco. Under the agreement, as amended in September 2003, the parties agree to utilise Sapin exclusively to furnish the entire wood requirements of the joint venture partners affiliated mills.
Sappi Fine Paper Europe produces approximately 45% of its pulp requirements. The remainder is supplied through open market purchases and, to a lesser extent, supply agreements.
Sappi Fine Paper Europes energy requirements are generally met by internally generated sources and purchases of electricity, gas and, to a lesser extent, oil. In Germany, Sappi Fine Paper Europe internally generates approximately 65% of the electricity used at its mills. Approximately 45% of the energy requirements for the Gratkorn mill are internally generated. The remaining requirements are met by purchasing electricity, oil, coal and gas in accordance with various supply agreements.
Substantially all of the electricity requirements of the Maastricht mill are satisfied by a 60 megawatt combined heat/power plant operated through a joint venture with Essent. All surplus electrical energy is supplied to the public electricity grid. We hold an ownership interest of 50% in the VOF Warmte/Kracht Maastricht Mill, the joint venture, which was formed in 1992, and are obligated to purchase all of the steam and electricity requirements of the Maastricht mill from the joint venture facility under a long-term
supply agreement. Essent purchases the surplus electrical energy of the VOF. The Maastricht mill also purchases natural gas pursuant to a contract with a natural gas supplier.
Nijmegen mills electricity requirements are largely satisfied by its co-generation power plant. The Nijmegen mill additionally purchases natural gas from Gasunie, a local supplier.
Lanaken mills energy requirements are generally met by purchases of natural gas and electricity. Certain of the energy requirements of the Lanaken mill are furnished by a combined heat and power unit constructed and operated pursuant to the Albertcentrale N.V. joint venture arrangement between Sappi, the Belgian power company Electrabel and Rabo Energy. Sappi holds a 49% ownership interest in the Albertcentrale facility and is obligated to purchase 85% of the plants energy requirements from the joint venture facility under a long-term supply agreement. The facility commenced operations in April 1997.
Major chemicals used by Sappi Fine Paper Europe include clays, carbonates, latexes and starches and chemicals for the specialty business. Sappi Fine Paper Europe purchases most of these chemicals from a portfolio of suppliers, and in only one case is Sappi Fine Paper Europe dependent on a sole source of supply. There are generally adequate sources of supply in the market. Most of these chemicals are subject to price fluctuations based upon a number of factors, including energy and crude oil prices and transportation costs, and commodity demand vs. supply imbalances.
Sappi Forest Products manages approximately 541 000 hectares of forestland in southern Africa, of which approximately 395 000 hectares are forested, which produces approximately 78% of the timber required for its operations. Sappi Forests owns approximately 373,000 hectares and manages the majority of the remainder. Usutu Pulp owns 55,000 hectares of pine on 70,000 hectares of land that is leased from the Swazi nation on a long-term lease, which we have the option to extend until 2089. Sappi Forests presently has supply contracts for the timber from approximately 90,000 hectares of plantations planted by small growers with our technical and financial support. Approximately 10% of the timber requirements of Sappi Forest Products is bought under a long-term contract with Safcol, the South African state-owned forestry company which is in the process of privatising. The remaining timber requirements are met through a number of significant medium-term contracts and open market purchases. The privatisation of Safcol is still subject to Competition Commission approval. We are unable to predict whether the privatisation of Safcol or the purchase of Safcols plantations in KwaZulu Natal by another bidder will have an adverse impact on our ability to continue to purchase timber from Safcol.
Sappi Forest Products and Sappi Fine Paper South Africa in aggregate manufacture all of the pulp required in their respective papermaking operations, except minimal quantities of specialised pulps, and together are a net seller of bleached and unbleached paper pulp. This vertical integration substantially reduces our exposure to fluctuations in the market price for pulp.
Our energy requirements in southern Africa are met principally by purchases of coal and electricity supplemented by purchases of fuel oil and gas. Much of the energy demand is met by internally generated biomass and spent liquors from the pulping process. Electricity is supplied by Eskom, the state-owned electricity company, or generated internally. The electricity generated by our plants in southern Africa is
equivalent to approximately 43% of our total electricity requirements. Coal, both for steam raising and gas production, and oil are purchased on contract.
Major chemicals used by Sappi Forest Products and Sappi Fine Paper South Africa include caustic soda, calcium carbonates, latexes and starches and sulphur and sulphuric acid. Sappi Forest Products and Sappi Fine Paper South Africa purchase these chemicals from a variety of South African and overseas suppliers. There are generally adequate sources of supply, and in only one case is Sappi Fine Paper South Africa dependent upon a sole source of supply. Most of these chemicals are subject to price fluctuations based upon a number of factors, including energy and crude oil prices and transportation costs, and commodity demand vs. supply imbalances.
We are subject to a wide range of environmental laws and regulations in the various jurisdictions in which we operate, and these laws and regulations have tended to become more stringent over time. Environmental compliance is an increasingly important consideration in our businesses, and we expect to continue to incur significant capital expenditures and operational and maintenance costs related to reductions in air emissions (including greenhouse gases), wastewater discharges and waste management. We constantly monitor the potential for changes in the laws regulating air emissions and other pollution control laws and take actions with respect to our operations accordingly. See note 41 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for more information.
Sappi Fine Paper North America is subject to stringent environmental laws in the United States. These laws include the Federal Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and their respective state counterparts. In December 2003, Sappi Fine Paper North America received a notice of violation and a finding of violation from the US Environmental Protection Agency, alleging violations of the Clean Air Acts new source performance standards in connection with repairs performed at the Muskegon pulp mill in the early 1990s. In July 2005, Sappi announced its decision to cease operations at the Muskegon pulp mill. Sappi Fine Paper North America is currently in settlement discussions with the US Environmental Protection Agency, and expects to settle the matter pursuant to a consent decree in which Sappi agrees (i) to more stringent permit requirements should the pulp mill ever start up again and (ii) to pay a fine of approximately $580,000.
The US is a non-signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, but we maintain a watching brief on State and Federal Greenhouse Gas (GHG) initiatives.
Our European facilities are subject to extensive environmental regulation in the various countries in which they operate. For example:
· In Germany, where two Sappi Fine Paper Europe mills are located, the Federal Emission Control Act, the Federal Water Act and the Federal Ground Act regulate air emissions, wastewater discharges and liability for contaminated sites, respectively.
· In the Netherlands, where two Sappi Fine Paper Europe mills are located, paper manufacturers, including Sappi, have made an agreement with the national government to improve environmental management and further limit emissions.
· In Austria and Belgium, water emissions and waste disposal requirements similar to those in Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands apply to our facilities.
· In the United Kingdom, our mills received permits required under the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations, which were enacted to implement the EC Directive 96/61/EC on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control.
· At our Nijmegen mill, we are subject to a potential damage charge of approximately $203,611 (euro 208,000), representing the alleged cost of cleaning up contaminated pulp from the local sewer system. The proposed charge relates to a discharge of pulp from our Nijmegen mill in 2000. We are pursuing a settlement of this matter with the local authorities.
· The Sappi Fine Paper Europe organisation is certified according to the international standard of environmental management systems (ISO 14001), and seven mills are certified according to the European EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme). We expect that the Lanaken mill will be certified in 2006. All the European mills publish their environmental reports on an annual basis.
· The countries within which we operate in Europe are all signatories of the Kyoto Protocol and we have developed a GHG strategy in line with this protocol. Our European mills have been set CO2 emission limits for the allocation period 2005 to 2007. Based upon in depth analysis of our mill production by a Sappi Fine Paper Europe task force it is unlikely that Sappi will exceed their CO2 emission limits. Consequently in July 2005 Sappi Fine Paper Europe sold 90,000 surplus CO2 credits to the value of $2.5 million (euro 2.0 million) on the European Climate Exchange.
The primary South African environmental laws affecting our operations have been substantially revised. For example:
· The National Water Act, effective October 1998, addresses the water shortages in South Africa in a manner that we believe will not significantly impact our manufacturing and forestry operations. Abstraction of water, discharge of effluent and management of forests are all regulated under a new license system in which first allocations go to, among other things, human consumption, before allocations are made to agriculture, industry and forestry. All water use is now subject to a charge. We expect to incur additional costs over the next decade to comply with the National Water Act, but are unable to quantify these at this time.
· The National Environmental Management Act, effective January 1998, adopted the philosophy of integrated environmental management, which provides for the integration of environmental considerations into all stages of any development process. The Act includes a number of significant principles, such as private prosecution of companies in the interest of the protection of the environment and the establishment of aggressive waste reduction goals. We expect to incur additional costs to comply with the National Environmental Management Act, which is not expected to be material.
· The National Environmental Management Act (Air Quality Bill) was promulgated in the beginning of 2005. The Air Quality Act will eventually replace the 1965 Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act and will impose stringent compliance standards on our operations when implemented, including those related to carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide air emissions. Limited sections of the Act were implemented in September 2005. We expect to incur additional costs to comply with the Air Quality Act, which we believe will not be material.
· South Africa is also a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol. We are initiating Clean Development Mechanism projects at various of our mills.
The requirements under these statutes may result in additional expenditures and operational constraints. Although we are in frequent contact with regulatory authorities during the phasing in of the legislation, we are uncertain as to the ultimate effect on our operations. Our current assessment of the legislation is that any compliance expenditures or operational constraints will not be material to our financial condition.
The forestry, timber and pulp and paper industries involve inherently hazardous activities including, among other things, the operation of heavy machinery. Nearly all countries in which we have significant manufacturing operations including South Africa, the United States and European countries, regulate
health and safety in the workplace. We actively seek to reduce the frequency of accidents in our workplaces and to improve health and safety conditions by extensive training and educational programmes.
During March 2005, we launched Project Zero, a concerted safety drive. Project Zero symbolises the goal of no injuries and involves standardising behaviour-based safety programmes throughout the group and focusing on the particular activities which have resulted in injuries or fatalities.
In the United States, Sappi Fine Paper North America must comply with a number of federal and state regulations regarding health and safety in the workplace. The most important of these regulations is the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act.
In Europe, we participate in various governmental worker accident and occupational health insurance programmes. In Austria, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, these programmes are funded by mandatory contributions by employers and employees. In Germany, we participate in a similar mandatory contribution scheme controlled by the German government, which permits employer and employee participation in its administration. The Safety and Health issues are integrated into the management systems.
In South Africa, we must comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Number 85 of 1993) and related regulations. Our South African businesses have instituted safety rating system, which sets standards for safety and facilitates the monitoring of compliance with applicable governmental laws and regulations.
Sappi Limited is the ultimate holding company of the Sappi Group. The following table sets forth the more significant subsidiaries and joint ventures owned directly or indirectly by Sappi Limited.
For a description of the production capacity of our mills, see Sappi Fine PaperFacilities and Operations and Sappi Forest ProductsFacilities and Operations.
For a description of the timberlands we own or have recently sold, see Sappi Fine PaperFacilities and OperationsSappi Fine Paper North America, Sappi Forest ProductsFacilities and OperationsSappi Forests and Supply Requirements.
For a description of our capital expenditures, see Item 5Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsLiquidity and Capital Resources.
The following table sets forth the location and use of our principal headquarters, manufacturing and distribution facilities. These facilities are owned unless otherwise indicated.
(1) The approximate size measurement relates to, in the case of manufacturing and distribution facilities, the perimeter of the property on which the principal manufacturing or distribution facilities are situated and, in the case of offices, the interior offices space owned or leased.
(2) Subject to a lease expiring in 2015.
(3) All of Sappi Fine Paper North America principal properties are pledged as collateral under Sappi Fine Paper North Americas credit facilities.
(4) Subject to a lease expiring in 2006.
(5) Subject to a lease that operates on a month-to-month basis.
(6) Subject to a lease expiring in 2010.
(7) Subject to a lease expiring in 2006.
(8) Of the total 6.2ha, 8,800m2 is subject to a lease expiring at the end of 2005.
(9) Subject to leases expiring in 2008.
(10) Substantial assets are leased pursuant to capital lease agreements.
(11) Subject to a lease expiring in 2015.
You should read the following discussion and analysis together with our Group annual financial statements, including the notes, included elsewhere in this Annual Report. Certain information contained in the discussion and analysis set forth below and elsewhere in this Annual Report includes forward-looking statements that involve risk and uncertainties. See Forward-Looking Statements, Item 3Key InformationSelected Financial Data, Item 3Key InformationRisk Factors, Item 4Information on the Company, Item 10Additional InformationExchange Controls and notes 2, 3, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 22, 23, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 37, 42 and 43 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for a discussion of important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the results described in or implied by the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report. The following discussion and analysis are based on the results of operations prepared in accordance with South African Statements of Generally Accepted Accounting Practice (SA GAAP), which differ from United States Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (US GAAP).
Fiscal 2005 included 53 accounting weeks, compared to 52 accounting weeks in fiscal 2004 and fiscal 2003. Our fiscal years operate on a 52 accounting week cycle, except every 6th fiscal year which includes an additional accounting week (additional accounting week). The following discussion of our operating and financial review and prospects refers to the impact of the additional accounting week in fiscal 2005 on our sales, raw material and other input costs of manufacturing, operating expenses and, selling, general and administration expense (SG&A expense), based on average sales and costs.
We are a global Company that through acquisitions in the 1990s has been transformed into the global market leader in coated fine paper. Two acquisitions were pivotal in establishing us as a global Company, namely the acquisition in 1994 of S.D. Warren Company, now known as Sappi Fine Paper North America, and the acquisition in 1997 of KNP Leykam, now integrated into Sappi Fine Paper Europe. Opportunities to grow within our core businesses will continue to be evaluated.
We have integrated our fine paper acquisitions into a single fine paper business, which operates under the name Sappi Fine Paper. We are organised into two operating business units: Sappi Fine Paper and Sappi Forest Products. We also operate a trading network called Sappi Trading for the international marketing and distribution of chemical cellulose and market pulp throughout the world and of the groups other products in areas outside our core operating regions of North America, Europe and southern Africa.
Sappi Fine Paper generated approximately 80% of our sales during fiscal 2005 and fiscal 2004. Of our sales for fiscal 2005 and fiscal 2004, approximately 84% were made in US dollars, euro and other non-Rand denominated currencies. Our South African business sells approximately 42% of its products in US dollars. See Inflation and Foreign Exchange and note 37 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report. Our sales by source and destination in fiscal 2005 and fiscal 2004 were as follows:
Sappi Fine Paper has a total paper production capacity of 4.2 million metric tonnes per annum. We are the global leader in the coated fine paper business with a capacity of 3.9 million metric tonnes of coated fine paper per annum and with a market share of approximately 24% in the United States,
approximately 20% in Europe and greater than 60% in southern Africa. Our market share in the United States declined during fiscal 2003 as a result of our long-term branded merchant distribution rationalisations, following the Potlatch acquisition, which resulted in discontinuing certain products and merchant relationships, as well as pricing actions of competitors in response to difficult market conditions. Our market share stabilised in fiscal 2004 and after declining earlier during fiscal 2005, our North American market share increased towards the end of fiscal 2005 to slightly above fiscal 2004 levels. After also declining during fiscal 2005, our European market share increased in recent months to similar levels as at the end of fiscal 2004. In addition, we are the worlds largest producer of chemical cellulose (dissolving pulp), with a market share of approximately 15%. The Sappi Group is now more than 100% integrated on a net basis in terms of pulp usage, meaning that, while some of our facilities are market buyers of pulp and others are market sellers, in the aggregate we produce slightly more pulp than we utilise. By region, the southern African operations are net sellers of pulp, Sappi Fine Paper North America is fully integrated and the European operations are approximately 44% self-sufficient for pulp in Continental Europe, but entirely dependent on market pulp in the United Kingdom. We supply approximately 78% of the wood requirements for our South African businesses from sources we own or manage. Both our North American and European operations are dependent on outside suppliers of wood for their production requirements.
In recent years, we have sought to internationalise our shareholder base and increase our exposure in the worlds major financial markets. On November 5, 1998, our American Depository Receipts commenced trading on the New York Stock Exchange. We believe that, as at the end of fiscal 2005, based on registered addresses and disclosure by nominee companies, 46% of our shares excluding the shares owned by a subsidiary of Sappi, were held beneficially in North America, 42% of our shares were held beneficially in southern Africa and 12% of our shares were held beneficially in Europe and elsewhere. We believe that, compared to the shareholding of our shares at the end of fiscal 2004, the North American shareholding of our shares has increased from 36% and the southern African shareholding has decreased from 51%, while the European shareholding remained unchanged.
The results of operations of our business are affected by numerous factors. Given the high fixed cost base of pulp and paper manufacturers, industry profitability is highly sensitive to changes in prices. Prices are significantly affected by changes in industry capacity and output levels, customer inventory levels and cyclical changes in the world economy. Profitability in our industry is, however, also influenced by factors such as sales volume, the level of raw material and other input costs, exchange rates, and operational efficiency.
The principal factors that have impacted our business during the financial periods presented in the following discussion and analysis and that are likely to continue to impact our business are:
a) cyclical nature of our industry and its impact on sales volume;
b) movement in market prices for our products;
c) sensitivity to currency movements;
d) movement in market prices for raw materials and other input costs of manufacturing; and
e) other significant factors impacting costs, including new acquisitions, restructuring and cost reduction initiatives.
Because many of the factors are beyond our control and certain of these factors have historically been volatile, past performance will not necessarily be indicative of future performance and it is difficult to predict future performance with any degree of certainty.
The markets for our pulp and paper products are cyclical, with prices significantly affected by factors such as changes in industry capacity and output levels, customer inventory levels and cyclical changes in the world economy. The pulp and paper industry has often been characterised by periods of imbalances between supply and demand, causing prices to be volatile. Prices also vary significantly by geographic region and product while our core coated paper products are used for many types of publications. The highly cyclical advertising market is a major driver of our business.
Paper demand has fluctuated significantly in recent years. From fiscal 2002 to fiscal 2004, the upswing in world economic growth and advertising markets resulted in a significant increase in demand for coated fine papers. The increase in demand was particularly pronounced in Europe where coated fine paper demand remained buoyant with a growth rate of 8.2% during fiscal 2004 despite their retreating rate of economic growth. North American demand growth improved during this period and reached 4.7% in fiscal 2004, reflecting the growth in the wider economy. However, growth rates were very volatile due to end-user inventory movement, increasing from negative 13.1% in the first quarter of fiscal 2004 to positive 18.0% in the third quarter of fiscal 2004.
Increases in industry capacity in Europe and North America were limited during this period, with companies reluctant to undertake major new capital projects in these regions due to the large amount of excess capacity already present. Despite global overcapacity, high Asian demand growth rates and freely available funding led to significant coated fine paper capacity additions between fiscal 2000 and fiscal 2005 in Asia, particularly in China. This wave of expansion finished by the end of calendar 2005 and as of early December 2005 no new machines were under construction or in the final stages of planning anywhere in the world.
Despite increased demand, operating rates were low in fiscal 2002 through the first half of fiscal 2004 due to excess capacity, causing price erosion in both Europe and North America. Despite the weakening US dollar during this period, net imports into the United States continued to grow, putting further pressure on prices. Prices in North America, however, did start to improve in the latter half of fiscal 2004 due to a sharp increase in demand which was probably spurred by inventory increases at the end-user level. These tight supply/demand conditions in North America continued into the first quarter of fiscal 2005, and further price increases were achieved. In the second quarter, growth rates turned sharply negative and this persisted until the end of fiscal 2005. End-use indicators such as advertising pages and printer consumption of coated fine paper were largely positive through this period, suggesting that actual demand did not decline in line with apparent demand. In total, North American apparent consumption grew by 1.0% in fiscal 2005.
In Europe, demand for coated fine paper grew by 4.4% in fiscal 2005, a significant decline on the previous years growth of 8.2%. Despite demand growth and sharp increases in input costs, our attempt to increase prices in the European market in fiscal 2005 was unsuccessful due to intense competition for market share.
Source: AF&PA & Cepifine
US short tonnes converted to metric tonnes
The recent price history for benchmark coated woodfree grades in North America and Europe is shown in the following chart:
Prices are list prices. Actual transaction prices could differ from prices depicted in graph
Pulp prices tend to display higher volatility than paper prices. The price of the benchmark pulp grade, Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft pulp (NBSK) has ranged from a low of $395 (Nov-1993) to a high of $925 (Sept-1995) per metric tonne.
Throughout fiscal 2003 and fiscal 2004, global demand for pulp was low in comparison to fiscal 2002 and price fluctuations were driven primarily by currency changes and inventory movement.
High pulp demand during the first half of fiscal 2005 resulted in an increase of $55 per metric tonne, but resulted in prices retreating during the latter part of the year due to destocking and a seasonal demand slowdown.
The traditional softwood pulp price premium to hardwood was disrupted in fiscal 2005 as a result of pulp mills shifting from hardwood to softwood production, and hardwood pulp mills closing temporarily. This led to hardwood pulp prices exceeding that of softwood in the final quarter of fiscal 2005. However, during October 2005 softwood price premiums were restored as some softwood mills closed in Eastern Canada, while hardwood supply increased during the latter part of fiscal 2005 as an additional 1.9 million metric tonnes came on stream with large expansions at Hainan Island in China and Veracel in Brazil.
Since Sappi sells roughly as much pulp as is purchased, fluctuations in market pulp prices have a negligible direct impact on the companys overall profitability. At a divisional level, pulp prices do, however, affect profitability since Sappi Fine Paper is a net buyer of hardwood pulp and Sappi Forest Products is a net seller of softwood pulp.
The price of NBSK and Northern Bleached Hardwood Kraft pulp (NBHK) pulp is depicted in the following chart:
Chemical cellulose (dissolving pulp) accounts for the majority of Sappis third party pulp sales. The chemical cellulose (dissolving pulp) we produce is used principally as an input in the production of various synthetic textiles and acetate flake used in the manufacturing of acetate tow for cigarette filter tips.
The movement in price of certain chemical cellulose (dissolving pulp) grades is linked to the price of NBSK. Higher technical specifications allow chemical cellulose (dissolving pulp) to typically trade at a premium to NBSK. BHK (bleached hardwood kraft) generally sells at a lower price than NBSK.
We diversified our range of chemical cellulose (dissolving pulp) products and secured significant new agreements to supply customers in the acetate sector during fiscal 2003. Also, a significant competitive source of supply was removed from the industry when International Paper closed its Natchez plant in fiscal 2003. Demand from all of the market segments in which Saiccor is active remained strong throughout fiscal 2004 with prices also increasing steadily. Saiccors capacity during fiscal 2005 continued to be fully booked with overall demand steady, despite a general fall off in the demand for chemical cellulose (dissolving pulp) from China during the year. Our chemical cellulose (dissolving pulp) business, which is 100% export-based, maintained a strong market position in the key Viscose Staple Fibre segment but also posted record sales of its higher alpha products, which are primarily sold into the acetate tow segment.
Based on a growing demand for Saiccors products, we announced, in the last quarter of fiscal 2005, that we are considering, subject to the completion of an environmental impact assessment and board approval, a project to expand the mills annual capacity by 200,000 metric tonnes. During the latter part of fiscal 2005, Weyerhaeuser announced the closure, effective early in calendar 2006, of its Cosmopolis mill in North America, a speciality pulp mill producing 125,000 metric tonnes per annum.
The principal currencies in which our subsidiaries conduct business are the US dollar, euro and Rand. Although our reporting currency is the US dollar, a significant portion of our sales and purchases is made in currencies other than the dollar. In Europe and North America, sales and expenses are generally denominated in euro and US dollars, respectively; however, pulp purchases in Europe are primarily also denominated in US dollars. In southern Africa, costs incurred are generally denominated in Rand, as are local sales. Exports to other regions, which represent approximately 42% of sales in fiscal 2005, are denominated primarily in US dollars.
We made sales in a range of foreign currencies in fiscal 2005, fiscal 2004 and fiscal 2003 as follows:
The increased proportion of the US dollar denominated sales and decreased proportion of euro denominated sales in fiscal 2005, is primarily the result of increased sales for our North American operations and also the effect of the Rand strengthening more on average in fiscal 2005 against the US dollar, compared to the strengthening of the euro on average against the US dollar.
The appreciation of the Rand or the euro against the US dollar tends to diminish the value of exports from southern Africa and Europe in local currencies, while depreciation of these currencies against the US dollar will have the opposite impact. Since expenses are generally denominated in local currencies, the depreciation of the US dollar has a negative effect on gross margins on exports and such domestic sales, which are priced relative to international US dollar prices. The appreciation of the US dollar will have the opposite impact. European importers of pulp denominated in US dollars have benefited in terms of local currency. Our consolidated financial position, results of operation and cash flows may be materially affected by movements in the exchange rate between the US dollar and the respective local currencies to which our subsidiaries are exposed. The principal currencies in which our subsidiaries conduct business
that are subject to the risks described in this paragraph are the US dollar, euro and Rand. The following table depicts the average and year end exchange rates for the Rand and euro against the US dollar used in the preparation of our financial statements in fiscal 2005, fiscal 2004 and fiscal 2003: