When Sasol reschedules its annual general meeting (AGM) it promises to be a doozy after non-profit shareholder activism organisation Just Share’s beef with it ratcheted up a notch in the wake of the petrochemicals group’s recent public letter on climate.
This as the group was forced last month to cancel its AGM after the meeting was disrupted by environmental protesters.
Some shareholders, such as Old Mutual and Ninety One, had indicated prior to the meeting they would not support climate change related resolutions.
Sasol has yet to reschedule the AGM.
Just Share said in a statement yesterday that Sasol had recently paid to publish a letter in several local media outlets.
The letter, from Sasol’s CEO Fleetwood Grobler, was addressed to “stakeholders” and titled “Balancing People, Planet, Profit on our pathway to Net Zero”.
The letter stated that: “Some views about Sasol’s approach have, regrettably, been inaccurate. It is therefore important that we set the record straight.”
Just Share said although Sasol had on several recent occasions stated that Just Share’s analysis of its climate disclosures was “inaccurate” and “misleading”, its sponsored letter did not deal with the concerns raised by Just Share, including that Sasol’s admission in its 2023 climate disclosures that “external factors … threaten to hinder the delivery we are aiming to achieve by 2030”.
It had also failed to explain the inexplicable removal from its 2023 disclosures of a target to procure 40% renewable energy for its Energy Business by 2026 as well as the fact that achieving its 2030 targets required a significant acceleration in the pace of greenhouse gas emission reductions compared to what Sasol had been able to achieve over the past 19 years, and this in circumstances where emissions increased in 2023, and were set to further increase in 2024.
“On 2 November 2023, Just Share published a briefing assessing Sasol’s 2023 climate disclosures. Although Sasol’s sponsored open letter does not reference Just Share’s briefing, its two previous media releases, claiming that Just Share’s briefing is ‘inaccurate” and ‘misleading’, as well as other statements to the media, make clear that the so-called inaccuracies it intends to correct include the content of Just Share’s briefing,“ it added.
Just Share said Sasol had also publicly criticised Old Mutual Investment Group (OMIG), one of its biggest shareholders, for pre-declaring its intention to vote against Sasol’s 2023 “say on climate” resolution.
Sasol stated that OMIG “appeared to have placed significant reliance on the Just Share report 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”.
Ninety One has also pre-declared its intention to vote against Sasol’s climate change resolution.
“In none of its public statements, however, has Sasol demonstrated why Just Share’s briefing is ‘misleading and inaccurate’, nor has it ‘corrected’ any of the facts set out in our briefing,“ it said.
Just Share said in the absence of any credible basis for Sasol’s accusation that its briefing was either inaccurate or misleading, Just Share reiterated its voting recommendations for Sasol’s yet-to-be rescheduled AGM that shareholders voted against Sasol’s “Say on Climate” resolution and that shareholders voted against the re-election of non-executive director Muriel Dube.
“Sasol does not have a board committee dedicated to overseeing the company’s management of climate risk, but it reports that the Safety, Social and Ethics Committee (SSEC) ‘is appointed to provide integrated strategic direction on sustainability, safety,social and ethics matters, including Sasol’s climate change response’. Considering Sasol’s multiple failures on this front, Ms Dube, as chair of the SSEC, should not be reappointed,“ it said.
Sasol yesterday said in response for comment that “These matters have been raised previously to which Sasol has already responded comprehensively.”
It failed to respond to as to when the AGM was expected to take place.
It pointed to its open stakeholder letter, recently issued by Grobler.
“We are fully aligned with our stakeholders that our emissions profile must be reduced. Where there is often disagreement, however, is over the speed at which this can reasonably be done in a pragmatic manner. The desire for urgency is understandable, but it can sometimes ignore the imperative of balancing all stakeholders’ needs, while focusing on environmental protection, sustaining our socio-economic contributions, and remaining profitable. Sasol’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) focus is premised on striking a reasonable balance on People, Planet and Profit,” Grobler said in the letter.