Sasol shares shrugged off the board’s decision to withhold a dividend — again — and the stock has been one of the JSE’s best performers year to date with a 27% rise, in no small part thanks to a resurgent oil price. It’s not as if Sasol is firing on all cylinders, though: mining productivity at its coal mines fell 16% over its first half to end-December, squeezing coal available to the group. It’s also pushed out its "Sasol 2.0" transformation programme, though it says the rejig — after which Sasol will be able to compete in a decarbonising economy, and a world in which the oil price holds at $45 a barrel — is still due to be completed by 2025. The FM spoke to CEO Fleetwood Grobler and CFO Paul Victor.

Is the absolute level of debt Sasol carries (R109.2bn as of end-December) as much of an issue as its gearing ratio — which is now dramatically lower than it was a year ago — if we’re to understand your reluctance to pay a dividend?..

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