I planted 5 220 spruce seedlings together with my immediate family and my siblings the other weekend. It was my father who did the previous planting together with my grandfather in the late 1930s. Was I creating value or was it purely heritage work? I guess it was mostly still value creation, but at the same time I was participating, together with my children, in something that our family has been doing for a long time. The following day I flew to New York to meet investors. I felt better, because there were those 5 220 seedlings sequestering CO2 from the aeroplane emissions.
In the early part of May I had the pleasure of visiting our eucalyptus plantations at Beihai City in Guangxi, China with Nordic investors. Stora Enso plans to build a pulp and packaging board mill which will be integrated with the plantations. The final approvals for the project from Chinese authorities are still pending. Our target is that the eucalyptus grows to harvesting in about seven years and will on average yield 25 m3 biomass per hectare annually.
One of the guests, Rami Vehmas, Senior Portfolio Manager from Finnish Insurance Company Ilmarinen, wrote a blog about the trip. Here are some of his thoughts from the visit which I want to share with you.
“Having seen many questionable conditions in Chinese companies, my expectations for the visit to Beihai were high. World class standards are required from foreign companies in China – which is totally right, but very unfair in comparison with local companies – and I assumed the Finnish company would meet these standards with flying colours. My expectations turned out to be right.
“The investment (when it has been approved) will raise the living standard of the local people significantly and bring new know-how and sustainable business operations to the Beihai area. The local people, the state and of course Stora Enso too would benefit from the investment and from the growing markets in China. In the end, the issue in investments is always increasing shareholder value, otherwise they would not be considered at all. Stora Enso’s aim is at least 13 per cent return on investment from the Beihai project.
“Based on my visit, I venture to claim that Stora Enso’s operations at Beihai bear comparison with any manufacturing industry company here in China and elsewhere in the world with regard to acting responsibly. I recommend that anyone who doubts that should travel to Beihai,” said Rami Vehmas.
We are working hard in China to prepare for an excellent project. It is great when the investors understand that and can appreciate our efforts. We will arrange additional trips to Guangxi, China and are happy to continue this dialogue with our stakeholders.