Sasol says investors critical of its climate record have ‘flawed understanding’

Sasol has hit back at investors who said they would…

Sasol has hit back at investors who said they would reject its climate-change report at an annual general meeting last month, before it was abandoned because of a protest.

The petrochemicals company accused the investors, which included Ninety One and Old Mutual Investment Group, of misconstruing its climate record in a letter to shareholders, a copy of which was seen by Bloomberg. Indicative proxy votes showed that the resolution would have been backed by more than 80% of its shareholders at the disrupted November 17 meeting, it said.

“This is despite a vocal opposing minority often expressing views that were evident of a flawed understanding or based on inaccurate information,” Johannesburg-based Sasol said.

While Ninety One and OMIG hold only about 5% of Sasol’s stock, they are among South Africa’s most influential fund managers, and the public spat may heighten focus on Sasol’s climate-change record. The company operates a petrochemicals complex at Secunda, which produces more of the climate-warming gases than any other industrial plant on earth, with its emissions exceeding those of Norway.

Ninety One, which confirmed receiving the letter, is South Africa’s biggest privately owned fund manager. It had questioned Sasol’s ability to meet its emission reduction targets and to find enough gas to reduce the use of coal at Secunda. OMIG, which holds 4% of Sasol, went further and said it would also vote against the re-election of a non-executive director because it said she was responsible for overseeing the company’s climate strategy.

Sasol didn’t respond to a request for comment. It has previously rejected OMIG’s argument. Sasol has yet to set a date for a reconvened AGM.

The company, South Africa’s biggest by revenue, accounts for about a fifth of the nation’s greenhouse-gas emissions. It also emits other pollutants including sulfur dioxide, which can cause heart attacks and strokes. The company has set a target of cutting emissions by 30% by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

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