Report from Stora:s annual general meeting
STORA's Annual General Meeting was held today at the Lugnet Sports Center in Falun, Sweden, with approximately 750 shareholders in attendance. Address by the President and CEO STORA's invoiced sales in 1996 totaled approximately SEK 45 billion, compared with SEK 57 billion in 1995. Group income after net financial items declined from SEK 8 billion to SEK 2.3 billion. In his address to the shareholders, STORA's President and CEO Lars-Åke Helgesson commented on the year's results as follows: "In some ways, however, 1996 was a reaffirmation of our strength in comparison with the previous low point in 1992. We maintained our market shares and still managed, despite the extremely weak economy, to make a profit of more than SEK 2 billion. While the decline in the value of the Swedish krona is a factor in this regard, the earnings figures also testify to our strong competitiveness as a result of the extensive consolidation and efficiency measures implemented during the past few years." STORA's President devoted much of his address to describing how the Group views the fast-expanding markets in such countries as Southeast Asia. Currently, STORA is investigating what strategy the company will adopt in terms of Southeast Asia. These analyses are not yet completed, and no decisions have been made, but Helgesson described a possible long-term scenario that includes continued expansion of the sales resources in Southeast Asia, the establishment of pulp production operations in an appropriate location and, finally, the Group's own fine-paper production in the Southeast Asian region at a future point in time. "A prerequisite for the production of fine papers in Southeast Asia, however, is that we first ensure access to long-term and assured supplies of short- fiber pulp, since this is the key to low production costs. That is why pulp production must come first. Pulp production for this purpose would not necessarily have to be in the same location as the fine-paper production. The crucial factor is to ensure that we utilize the full value of the cheap fiber. We are therefore studying various alternatives for pulp production, in both Southeast Asia and South America. A number of factors in this comparison favor South America." Decisions approved by the Meeting The Annual General Meeting adopted the Board of Directors' proposal that a dividend of SEK 3.75 (Fiscal 1995: 3.75) per share be paid for the 1996 fiscal year. March 25, 1997 was approved as the record date. The dividend will be distributed through the Swedish Securities Register Center (VPC AB) on April 3, 1997. The following members of the Board were all reelected: Bo Berggren, Jacob Wallenberg, Claes Dahlbäck, Lars-Åke Helgesson, Palle Marcus, Håkan Mogren, Björn Svedberg, Sven Söderberg and Tom Wachtmeister. Lars Eggertz declined reelection. Jan Sjöqvist was elected as a new member of the Board. Mr. Sjöqvist is president of NCC AB. The Chairman extended the thanks of the Board and the shareholders to Lars Eggertz for his work on the STORA Board, of which he has been a member since 1977. Employee representatives on the Board are Ingemar Falk, Roger Karlsson and Ann-Christin Käll, with Tommy Nordkvist and Kjell Westin as deputies. The Company's auditors, Caj Nackstad and Olof Herolf were reelected. Lars G Eklund was reelected as personal deputy to Olof Herolf. Roland Nilsson was elected as new personal deputy to Caj Nackstad, replacing Sten Lundvall who declined reelection. Statutory Board Meeting At the statutory meeting of the Board following the Annual General Meeting, Bo Berggren was reelected Chairman and Jacob Wallenberg Deputy Chairman of the Board.