Verso Paper Corp. acquires larger rival NewPage Holdings for $1.4B, affecting 2 Maine mills

Markets Associated Press

Tennessee-based Verso Paper Corp. has announced the completion of its acquisition of its larger rival NewPage Holdings in a $1.4 billion deal.

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The Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/1Iv4UIG) reports that the acquisition will affect Verso's Jay mill and the former Rumford NewPage mill. The federal Department of Justice required Verso to sell off the Rumford mill because of antitrust concerns. Verso announced a deal to sell the 700-employee Rumford mill to Canada-based Catalyst Paper Corp. in October.

Verso and NewPage announced plans to merge in January 2014. The merger leaves Verso with approximately $3.5 billion in annual sales and 5,800 employees in six states.

Verso recently closed its mill in Bucksport and announced plans to sell it to a Canadian metal recycler. Maine Gov. Paul LePage called the closure and sale "terribly disappointing" on Thursday. He said firms have expressed interest in continuing the mill as a papermaking business.

Maine labor officials have said the Bucksport mill would pay laid-off employees half their severance pay by Thursday and the rest by mid-March. A company spokesman said Thursday that those were still the plans.

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Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com