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Most US coated paper capacity now in foreign hands

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Christian Bohr
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Christian Bohr
Published by
Simon Matthis - 08 Jan 2015

Two major events have shaken the US coated paper industry this week, leaving most of the country's ability to make coated paper in foreign companies.

The events that occurred almost simultaneously yesterday are:

1) NewPage, the largest North American maker of coated paper, divested its Biron, Wisconsin and Rumford, Maine mills to Catalyst Paper, which means that almost 12% of the nation's coated-paper capacity into Canadian hands.

2) The purchase of NewPage by Verso, the continent's #2 maker of coated paper, was completed a year and a day after it was first proposed. The U.S Justice Department, required the sale of the two NewPage mills for the takeover to be approved,  fearing a combined Verso-NewPage would have too large a market share.

According to Dead Tree Edition, four U.S.-owned companies -- NewPage, Verso, Appleton, and FutureMark -- represented 65% of the country's coated capacity last summer. The rest was owned by companies based in South Africa (SAPPI), Canada (Resolute and West Linn), Finland (UPM), and New Zealand (Evergreen). Since then, FutureMark went out of business, Verso closed its Bucksport, Maine mill, and NewPage sold the two mills to Catalyst.

Coated paper was invented by a US company in 1935, according to Dead Tree Edition, but in recent decades European and Canadian companies have out-innovated US companies.