Sasol’s AGM has been abandoned, as climate protestors stormed the stage. The company was already facing a rocky ride over its climate plans, with investors voicing their objections.
Bloomberg reported the arrival of Extinction Rebellion activists who occupied the stage, waving banners and shouting “shame on Sasol”. While the company attempted to continue, executives eventually abandoned their efforts and ended the AGM.
The Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA) described the AGM cancellation as among the “great victories of environmental justice activism”.
Old Mutual and Ninety One had expressed their opposition to Sasol’s climate plans ahead of the meeting.
The petrochemical company had set out plans to hold advisory votes on its remuneration policy and decarbonisation plans.
Old Mutual had said it would oppose these measures, in addition to opposing the election of a Sasol director, Muriel Dube.
Sasol said the investor had “placed significant reliance” on a report from Just Share “without proper consideration and/or recognition of any of Sasol’s recent disclosures and assertions made in response, which point to factual inaccuracies contained in Just Share’s report”.
The company said it was working on a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases.
Just Share published a report in early November saying Sasol had admitted it “may not meet” its 2030 emission reduction targets. The group said investors should vote against the climate resolution and against the appointment of Dube.
The director heads Sasol’s Safety, Social and Ethics Committee, which has oversight on the company’s climate change plans. “In light of Sasol’s multiple failures on this front, Ms Dube, as chair of the SSEC, should not be reappointed,” Just Share said.
Sasol also announced the selection of its next CEO and president, Simon Baloyi, today.
He will take over the top spot as of April 1, 2024. Fleetwood Grobler, current president CEO of Sasol, will continue in an executive advisor role until the end of 2024.
Baloyi is currently executive vice president, energy operations and technology at Sasol. He joined Sasol in 2002.
Sasol said its board had launched a “comprehensive recruitment programme” to replace Fleetwood. The company considered internal and external candidates, in order to find a leader who would “be best positioned to most effectively serve” Sasol’s future needs.
Sasol chair Stephen Westwell said Grobler had provided resolute leadership. The outgoing CEO has put the company “on track to be more resilient, and live up to our purpose of innovating for a better world”.
In January, Grobler will have been at the company for 40 years.
“In addition, the Board has full confidence in Simon’s ability to lead Sasol. We believe that his strategic outlook, excellent leadership skills, technical and business acumen and deep experience of our operations will stand him in excellent stead to take over the helm,” said Westwell.
Baloyi started at Sasol as a process engineer. He became senior vice president at Secunda in 2019 and then executive vice president in April 2022.
Conflict of interests
Baloyi’s appointment comes shortly after the resignation of Sipho Nkosi, who had held the role of chairman and non-executive director. He stepped down on November 10, after concerns that “some of his business interests may be perceived to place him in conflict with the interests of Sasol”.
A number of reports linked Nkosi’s resignation to his role at Kinetiko Energy. Nkosi’s Talent 10 had invested A$6.5 million in Kinetiko in September. Kinetiko is in talks to supply gas to Sasol.
Westwell was appointed as chair as of November 11.