Over the past few years, events and issues, some of which fall outside traditional pulp and paper making, have shown to have increasingly more influence over the industry. This year is no different.
From political issues—Brexit (again) and the US presidential election (despite being more than a year away)—to social media to trade to entertainment to other issues that affect the industry such as the paper straw, they all have a place on this year’s list. However, a person returns to the top of the list this year and it’s her second time as the most influential person in the industry. Nine Dragons’ Cheung Yan comes out as No. 1 in 2019, just as she did in 2017. It’s a family affair as her son Ken Liu, head of ND Paper, also makes a return appearance.
There are many other familiar names but many newcomers as well. As we have said in the past, we enjoy putting together this annual eclectic collection. It is neither a scientific study nor a popularity contest. It is more a year’s worth of observation along with the opinions of many experienced analysts within the industry.
As we were compiling this year’s list, the sad news came in that Sylvain Lhôte, director general of the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI), died suddenly. Lhôte had been on the Power List for the last two years and was doing a fantastic job supporting the pulp and paper industries in Europe. Lhôte was recently also announced as the new president of the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA). He will be greatly missed in the industry worldwide.
Again, we would like to hear from you as to whom we may have missed and why they should be included. You can contact Graeme Rodden (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mark Rushton (email@example.com) with your list of people who deserve to be on the 2020 Top 50.
1. CHEUNG YAN
NINE DRAGONS PAPER
is one of a select few people in the pulp and paper industry who have always been on the Power List since its inception 12 years ago. Cheung Yan heads 2019’s list for yet more audacious company expansion—in this year alone Nine Dragons will add 2.05 million tonnes/yr of capacity in China. The company will start up four new recycled linerboard machines by the end of October. Also, US subsidiary ND Paper, headed by Cheung Yan’s son, Ken Liu (#32) is in the midst of equipment upgrades and expansion projects that will see another 1.4 million tonnes/yr of capacity added to the four US plants it recently acquired. However, all is not totally rosy in the Nine Dragons’ garden; the chairlady recently told Fastmarkets RISI that “China’s imposition of an additional 25 percent tariff on US RCP has taken a heavy toll on the group’s profitability.”
2. MARK SUTTON
A perennial member of this list and the 2018 TAPPI/PIMA Executive of the Year, Sutton leads a company that has been named one of the Most Admired Companies by Fortune; one of the Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere; and one of the 100 Best Places to Work by Computerworld. What more is there to add? On the mill front, IP acquired DS Smith’s packaging businesses in Portugal and France. It has postponed its US$300-million conversion of PM 15 in Selma, AL, (from UFS to whitetop and containerboard). Plus: will it make another play for Smurfit Kappa Group in the upcoming months?
3. WALTER SCHALKA
Not only a familiar face on this list, but also a four-time winner of the Fastmarkets RISI Latin American CEO of the Year Award, Schalka now leads a behemoth in pulp making after the merger with Fibria. His leadership skills will be put to the test in the coming months as pulp markets face an upheaval with slowing demand and oversupply. Suzano has announced downtime that will take more than 1 million metric tons off the market through 2019.
4. SUSUMU YAJIMA
Fastmarkets RISI Asian CEO of the Year for 2019, Susumu Yajima has led the company to record sales and profit despite a deterioration in Japan’s domestic printing paper markets and severe weather events and earthquakes last year. Net sales of the company are up 4.4% and net profits are up 43.5% on the previous year. Oji credits the achievements mainly to its expanded operations and better prices for overseas pulp sales.
5. JUSSI PESONEN
Another Power List 12-year stalwart, CEO and president of UPM, Pesonen, moves up the list this year as he was recently awarded Fastmarkets RISI European CEO of the Year. One expert involved in his selection pointed to his efforts to “transform UPM from a business that was primarily focused on paper production to one that has broadened its reach across the pulp and paper sector.” Pesonen said in a recent interview, “Innovation and continuous exploration of new growth opportunities are central to UPM’s operations.”
6. ANTHONY PRATT
Hard on the heels of its successful mill openings in Shreveport, LA, and Valparaiso, IN, Pratt is set to open its fifth 100% recycled corrugated medium and liner mill, this one in Wapakoneta, OH. Able to make 360,000 tonnes/yr, the total investment is about US$275 million. Under Anthony Pratt’s guidance, the company is the world’s largest privately-held paper and packaging producer. According to past statements, the company has plans for further expansion.
7. JOHN WILLIAMS
Honored at PaperCon 2019 as the PIMA Executive of the Year, Williams was cited for his ability to continually evaluate long-term strategy while achieving short-term results. As well as a prescient move into adult hygienic care products, Domtar has found some success with its nanocrystalline cellulose business, CelluForce. A recent multi-million dollar project helped CelluForce double its capacity. It says something about Williams’ leadership in that four other Domtar employees received PIMA management awards during PaperCon.
8. CRISTIANO TEXEIRA
Texeira has ambitious plans for Klabin. He said the company is “more ready than ever” to play a role in future packaging industry M&A. In the next five years, the company plans on spending US$2.3 billion on the Puma II project that will see two more integrated paper machines with a capacity of 920,000 tonnes/yr of linerboard. Plans are for the new capacity to be sold in export markets such as North America and Europe.
It’s almost impossible to attend any paper industry conference without hearing one analyst or another talk about Amazon (as well as other e-commerce players) and the effect they have had on the packaging sector. Its tendency to over-package goods (boxes within boxes) has come under scrutiny and any cutback could have an effect on the sector. But e-commerce is here to stay and the biggest player holds great sway over the market.
10. TEGUH WIJAYA
Asia Pulp & Paper never does things in half measures and the last 12 months are no different. The Indonesian pulp and paper giant has revealed plans to build the world’s largest paper and board mill on the coast of Andhra Pradesh, India. The proposed mill would be able to produce 5 million metric tpy and will cost around US$3.5 billion. The greenfield development comes on the back of strong growth predictions for domestic demand in India, which is set to double over the next decade. At the same time APP China is has plans for a massive greenfield tissue mill in Rudong county, Nantong city, with a capacity of 780,000 tonnes/yr.