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Paper pushers: A quick look at Hong Kong family business Samson Paper

Samson Paper, like many Asian family businesses, are not only driving the economic development of their countries, but are also shaping global production and consumption, and have recently expanded into sectors including aeronautics and marine services

Samson Paper in numbers
Founded: 1965
Generation: Second
Revenues: $660 million (2013)
Employees: 1,730

Samson Paper was established in 1965 when Kit Ying Sham, then a businessman with more than 30 years in the paper industry, decided to go it alone and set up his own business. Soon after, in the 1970s and 1980s, Hong Kong experienced a surge in demand for paper products and the entrepreneur incorporated the business in 1981. Today Samson Paper Holdings, which is 74.5% owned by the founding family, has annual turnovers of HK$5.15 billion ($660 million) and operates three paper segments, including manufacturing, trading and marketing.

Samson Paper’s extensive sales network in the Asia Pacific region and paper mill in Shandong, China enables the group to produce tremendous volumes of paper, which is sold primarily to companies in industrial districts. Under the leadership of Sham, and later his son-in-law, deputy chairman Seng Jin Lee, Samson Paper has diversified into sectors including aeronautics and marine services. The group is heavily reliant on its industry knowledge and technical ability, but has become known for hiring from local talent pools. The group now has more than 20 sales offices in major coastal industrial and inland cities in China, as well as branches in Singapore, Malaysia and Los Angeles.

Over the last decade, China has tripled its paper production and has overtaken the United States as the world’s largest manufacturer of paper. Yet the country imports the majority of the wood, including approximately 28 million tonnes of scrap paper each year, causing conservation groups to suggest China is destroying the world’s forests. This has resulted in a backlash from concerned countries, including the EU, which imposed anti-dumping and anti-subsidies on imports in 2011. Consequently, paper producers in China have been forced to reduce their carbon emissions by 46% over two years. Samson Paper is no exception, winning the 2013 CarbonCare Label award from Hong Kong’s under-secretary for the environment Christine Loh, a major success.  

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