Sappi Appoints CFO Steve Binnie as CEO to Oversee Pulp Strategy

Sappi Ltd. (SAP), the world’s biggest producer of dissolving wood pulp, named Steve Binnie as chief executive officer starting July 1, replacing Ralph Boettger, who is retiring due to ill health.

Binnie, 46, became chief financial officer of Sappi in September 2012, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement today. He was previously CFO at Edcon Holdings (Pty) Ltd., South Africa’s biggest clothing retailer, and a financial manager at Investec Bank Ltd.

“The board believes that Steve has all the necessary skills and attributes to take Sappi forward and to deliver strong growth into the future,” Sappi Chairman Danie Cronje said in the statement. A new CFO will be appointed before the end of June, he said.

Binnie will oversee the implementation of a new strategy at the world’s biggest maker of glossy paper, which is increasingly focused on cellulose products used in sportswear and luxury clothes before less profitable paper. The company has plans to cut debt to $2 billion from $2.3 billion over the next 12 months with a view to resuming dividend payments. Sappi’s net income rose 50 percent to $18 million in the three months through December, helped by Europe, its main market, returning to operating profit.

Sappi shares rose 0.1 percent to 34.45 rand as of 11:03 a.m. in Johannesburg, extending this year’s gain to 5.2 percent. This compares with a 1 percent decline in the 165-member FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index. (JALSH)

To contact the reporter on this story: Kamlesh Bhuckory in Johannesburg at kbhuckory@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Thiel at sthiel1@bloomberg.net

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