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Schalka, CEO of Suzano, Named Latin American CEO of the Year

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RISI, Boston, Mass., USA, this week announced that Walter Schalka, CEO of Suzano Pulp and Paper, Brazil, has been named the 2017 Latin American CEO of the Year. It is the first time an executive from the region has won the award for the third consecutive year. The award will be presented to Schalka at the Latin American Conference on Aug. 15, 2017 in São Paulo, Brazil.

RISI's Latin American CEO of the Year is nominated by a group of investment analysts, portfolio managers, and RISI experts covering the Latin American and global pulp and paper industry. Among the reasons cited for Schalka's third win, one analyst noted that "he stands out in terms of efficiency and transparency with the market, always being clear with the company's strategy. In 2016 he did a very good job with the paper market, even though the pulp scenario was under pressure."

Another said that "he has been quite vocal about increasing pulp prices, and Suzano seems to have taken the lead recently with announcing them. In addition, he has increased transparency in the reporting/disclosure of Suzano, and looking to improve corporate governance of the company."

Suzano showed success in the fourth quarter of 2016 when cash cost totaled Real 570/metric ton, the lowest level of the year and already meeting the company's target for 2018. In the year, cash cost was Real 623/metric ton, down 3% from 2015. Suzano has continued to be applauded for transparency, going as far as to hold Suzano Day in São Paulo where Schalka stated BEK net minimum prices "should be higher than $600/metric ton" and encouraged other players in the market to take out volumes from the market when prices are too low.

In a recent conference call to release Suzano's first quarter 2017 results, Schalka said the company remains focused on its strategy of structural competitiveness, seeking to optimize its cost structure and expenses. The company estimates a Real 1.8 billion Capex for this year, including investments in two tissue lines planned to start up in the second half of 2017.

Walter Schalka began his career at Citibank and later joined the holding company of Grupo Maepar. In 1989, he began working as CFO at Dixie Lalekla. After the merger between Toga and Dixie Lalekla, in 1995, that created the Dixie Toga Group, he became general director. In 1997, he became the group's CEO and played a decisive role in its expansion, merger, and transfer of control processes. In May 2005, he joined Grupo Votorantim as CEO of Votorantim Cimentos, where he was responsible for the operations in Brazil and in 14 other countries. In January 2013, he became CEO of Suzano Pulp and Paper, where he has focused on improving the company's results. 

Schalka holds a bachelor's degree in engineering from the Technological Institute of Aeronautics (ITA) and a graduate degree in Business Administration from the Getulio Vargas Foundation of São Paulo (FGV-SP). He also participated in the executive programs at IMD (Switzerland) and Harvard University (USA).


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