Introduction by the Chairman
Our focus during 2016 had been on delivery, and we fully maintained this in 2017, with positive results on many fronts.
Rob Routs, Chairman Supervisory Board
For DSM, 2017 was again a year of strong delivery. DSM exceeded the targets set out in Strategy 2018: Driving Profitable Growth. The strong focus on delivery that we witnessed in 2016 continued in 2017 and is now clearly anchored throughout the company.
We also successfully divested our remaining stake in Patheon bringing total cash proceeds at about € 2 billion, demonstrating our commitment to monetize the significant value within our associates.
Being well ahead of the ambitions of Strategy 2018 and having received the significant cash proceeds of Patheon earlier than anticipated, the Supervisory Board fully supports the Managing Board's intention to accelerate the regular strategy review process for the period beyond 2018, while remaining firmly in delivery mode.
During the second half of 2017, the Supervisory Board dedicated several sessions to this strategy review process, discussing also how to maintain the company's current growth momentum and fully leverage the results of recent improvement programs and investments in talent development.
Safety has been the subject of serious discussion. There was a tragic fatal accident at one of our plants in the US in 2017, which came as a great shock. The Supervisory Board pays close attention to both personal and process safety; these have been recurring topics at our meetings. We remain committed to the safety of all employees and contractors and our goal is for DSM to be an incident- and injury-free company.
DSM continued to deliver well on its ambitious sustainability goals as part of Strategy 2018. Sustainability is our core value and a key business driver for the growth of the company.
Not only do we reduce our own environmental footprint and enable our customers to do the same with our innovative solutions, we also advocate on the issues that define our times. DSM continues to be a positive voice, shaping discussions with organizations like the CEO Climate Ambassadors of the World Economic Forum, the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC, convened by the World Bank, supported by the UN, IMF and OECD) and We Mean Business.
Our CEO Feike Sijbesma showed great leadership in this area during 2017 especially regarding advocacy on climate action. In recognition of the substantial role he played in supporting the Paris Agreement (COP21) and in many other climate-related negotiations and meetings since that historic agreement, Mr. Sijbesma was invited to be an official speaker and share the stage with heads of state at the One Planet Summit organized by French President Macron in December. During the summit, many countries announced the introduction of carbon pricing — a significant breakthrough for Mr. Sijbesma who co-chairs the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition together with Mrs. Catherine McKenna, the Canadian Minister of Environment.
This year, the site visits of the Supervisory Board took place in the US, where we visited a range of different businesses across DSM including DSM Venturing, i-Health, DSM Biomedical, DSM-POET and DSM-Niaga. The US visit helped my colleagues on the Supervisory Board to deepen their understanding of some of the smaller businesses within DSM, their various business models, and respective growth and innovation opportunities. It also allowed us to interact with management and other talent in North America.
Overall, 2017 was a very good year for DSM. On behalf of my colleagues on the Supervisory Board, I would like to thank our employees and DSM's leadership for their hard work and commitment. I would also like to thank the many stakeholders who continue to place their trust in DSM.