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Verso sells two mills in Wisconsin, Maine

MIAMISBURG, Ohio — Verso Corp. has completed the sale of two mills, including one in Wisconsin, as part of a $400 million deal.

The company announced this week it has sold its Stevens Point, Wis., mill and its Androscoggin Mill in Jay, Maine, to Pixelle Specialty Solutions after gaining final approval last month at a shareholders meeting in New York.

The deal with Spring Grove, Pennsylvania-based Pixelle was revealed in November. Pixelle’s acquisitions will make it the largest specialty paper producer in North America.

Verso’s remaining mills in Escanaba; Quinnesec; Duluth, Minn.; and Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.; have a combined annual production capacity of 2 million tons of paper. Adam St. John, a former manager at the Quinnesec pulp and paper mill, is Verso’s CEO.

“After the transaction, we will continue to be a debt-free company with significant manufacturing and financial flexibility, well positioned to enhance our competitive market position, effectively respond to industry trends and take advantage of low-risk, high-return opportunities that should create long-term value for all of our stakeholders,” St. John said .

Verso President Mike Weinhold said the company will shift its focus to pulp and packaging products, as well as other specialty products at its remaining mills.

The sale was made just weeks after Verso reached a compromise with an activist shareholder group. The company, based in Miamisburg, Ohio, said Jan. 31 it agreed to help confirm three of the activist investor group’s nominees to its board of directors — replacing three members of Verso’s existing board. In return, the shareholder group agreed to back the sale of the mills.

According to Milwaukee Business Journal, the deal will allow Verso to return between $225 million and $282 million of net proceeds to stockholders, by way of either dividend or share repurchase. The company did not immediately say whether any proceeds would be invested in its remaining mills.

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