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Verso Paper buys three central Wisconsin NewPage mills

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WI (WTAQ) - A company that owns paper mills in central Wisconsin has been acquired by a competing firm.  

Verso Paper of Memphis has purchased NewPage -- which includes plants in Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, and Biron.

The transaction totals $1.4 billion. Directors of both firms have approved the deal.

It comes about a year after NewPage, which is based in Miamisburg Ohio, emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  

The company employs about 1,700 people in central Wisconsin. Media reports said there were questions about possible job cuts, after both firms said the deal would result in $175 million of, "pre-tax total cost synergies" within a year-and-a-half. It's designed to heavily reduce the debt levels that Verso is picking up.  

Verso has annual sales of $1.5 billion, with paper mills in Maine and Michigan. NewPage makes the same types of coated papers as Verso, with more than twice the annual sales.

It has plants in six states including Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Rapids area mills were originally locally owned for decades by the former Consolidated Papers. Consolidated sold six Wisconsin mills to Stora Enso of Finland in 2000.

NewPage bought the plants in 2007, and later closed three of them.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)