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Sappi Says CEO Boettger to Step Down Due to Ill Health

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Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Sappi Ltd., the world’s biggest maker of glossy paper, said Chief Executive Officer Ralph Boettger will step down after being diagnosed with a serious illness.

Boettger, 52, will relinquish his position as CEO and director on June 30, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement today. A process is in place to identify his successor, it said.

“I deeply regret having to make this decision at this time as I am convinced that Sappi stands on the cusp of a period of strong performance and exciting growth,” said Boettger, who has led the company since July 2007. “However, I believe that spending time with my family has become the priority and that it is in the best interest of the company and of my family to step down.”

Sappi is ramping up capacity for dissolving wood pulp, an ingredient in textiles, as part of a strategy to boost earnings and cut reliance on Europe, its main market. The company had a loss of $161 million for the year through September compared with a profit of $104 million a year earlier, it said on Nov. 7.

“A clear strategy and action plan are in place,” Sappi Chairman Daniel Cronje said. “The major projects to re-position the group have been successfully completed and are operational, leaving the company in a position for growth into the future.”

The stock rose as much 2.6 percent and was up 0.9 percent at 33.45 rand at 10:10 a.m. in Johannesburg.

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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