By not declaring a dividend in the six months to March 2018, Nampak is hedging its bets amid improving business confidence and higher economic growth forecasts — both for SA and the continent. No dividend was declared for the year to September 2017 in line with a decision taken in 2016 to suspend dividends, to improve the group’s financial position and conserve cash. Despite much improved gearing to 39% and R1.3bn in cash remittances from Nigeria, Angola and Zimbabwe in the period, markets remain tough for Africa’s biggest diversified packaging maker. CEO Andre de Ruyter says R3.8bn remains frozen in these countries, after Nigeria’s and Angola’s economies were hammered by a collapse in world oil prices. This had led to foreign exchange shortages. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has been beset by years of political and economic turmoil.

That said, plastics demand in Zimbabwe has boosted Nampak’s profits and market share in that country, along with new customers and new product sales. It is...

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