Tongaat Hulett’s year to March should have been successful, with the group emerging from the worst drought to hit the region in more than three decades. But while its sugar production rose 11% across its operations in SA, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, its headline EPS dived 37.2% to 534.8c and its dividend from 300c to 160c. The most severe damage was done in SA: despite a 160,000t (45%) increase in sugar production to 513,000t, operating profit slumped 78%, from R390m to R86m. "Our SA sugar operation came as a big shock," says long-serving CEO Peter Staude. Tongaat Hulett was hit by a number of factors beyond its control in SA — not least of which was a complete dropping of import duties over a lengthy period. This was the result of a so-called administrative error by the responsible government department. It meant that 520,000t of imported sugar poured into SA, sending SA producers’ sales in the country diving from 1.64Mt in 2016 to 1.18Mt in 2017. The sugar displaced by imports was ex...

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