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Kazakhstan 2015 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Tomas Mateos Werner, CEO of Kazakhstan Kagazy, on the evolution of the firm and creating environmentally friendly boxes.

Tomas Mateos Werner
BIOGRAPHY
Tomas Mateos Werner has been a member of the Kazakhstan Kagazy Board of Directors since November 2009. In April 2013 he was appointed CEO of Kazakhstan Kagazy. He is also a Managing Partner at Werner Capital. Between 1992 and 2008 he held senior positions at Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch, and HSBC in New York, Zurich, Frankfurt, and London. He holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and the London Business School, a Master’s from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, and a degree in Law from the University of the Balearic Islands.

Can you elaborate on the evolution of Kazakhstan Kagazy from its inception in 2001?

Our company is a leader and the most innovative company in its sector. Kazakhstan Kagazy was established in 2001 following an import substitution program and was financed by the Kazakhstani government. It was the first paper factory to be installed in Kazakhstan. Our factory was also the first to move to paper production from waste paper. Kazakhstan Kagazy takes waste paper, regenerates it, and then we make boxes; we were the first to establish a modern corrugated factory, and we are the leading factory in terms of size and the quality of the technology we are using. We are the top company in our sector, and the only one to be listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). Kazakhstan Kagazy was the first company to produce mottled bleached cardboard out of waste paper in the country, and we are the first company to produce green boxes, which are made from 100% recycled paper.

What is your market share within Kazakhstan?

In terms of paper production, we have a 90% market share in Kazakhstan. In corrugated paper products we have a 50% share of the Kazakhstani market. In waste paper it is hard to say, because there are no solid statistics; it is still a market that is under development. A lot of waste paper in Kazakhstan is used for heating in the winter. I estimate that out of the entire collectible market, we have around a 70% market share.

What is the potential for the green economy and specifically for recycling businesses here in the region and in Kazakhstan?

There are several positive developments, with even more room for progress. What is critical is that we are operating in a relatively rich economy that has money to reinvest; Kazakhstan is a wealthy country. And the country is doing well compared to its neighbors. The government, and specifically the President, has made it an objective that by 2050, Kazakhstan will no longer rely on oil and gas as the mainstay of its economy. What is still missing is public consciousness about recycling and the treatment of waste. The development of a green economy has to be a partnership between the government, the general public, and the private sector. One does not simply impose a green economy without public awareness. And currently, this awareness is still insufficient. This is critical for our company, as we are pioneers in certain areas of recycling. In addition, there is complex legislation that is not always properly executed at the municipal level. Through international conferences, we try to educate the industry about different ways of packaging, and we show how green packaging can actually provide long-term savings.

What has to be done to increase the attractiveness of this sector to international investors?

Right now, Kazakhstan is a small market. However, Russia is investing more into this area. Normally, international companies make an entry when the market has already evolved to a certain point. They stay away for the early stages, and thus our role is to move toward this point. Kazakhstan Kagazy must bring these recycling opportunities to the national stage and then partner with the international community and large international investors.