Madawaska paper company acquires Arkansas mill as part of buying spree
Twin Rivers Paper Co., a specialty paper company based in Madawaska, said Wednesday it will buy an Arkansas paper mill that makes unbleached kraft papers.
The move comes after the company bought four mills, three in New York and one in Mississippi, in December 2016. Twin Rivers CEO Bob Snyder said the acquisitions are part of the paper company’s strategy to reinvent its product mix, stay profitable and keep jobs, notably in Maine, where six other paper mills went under in recent years.
“We are in an acquisition mode,” he told an audience at Paper Days, the industry’s annual meeting, as it closed on Thursday at the University of Maine in Orono. “We think we have a good acquisitions team to buy broken assets and fix them.”
He said the company is reinventing old product lines and adding complementary products to keep growing.
Twin Rivers currently has four paper machines in Madawaska, where it focuses on making specialty publishing paper, packaging, labels and technical papers. Twin Rivers is owned jointly by Atlas Holdings LLC and Blue Wolf Capital.
“The Madawaska mill reinvented itself into making different grades of paper,” Snyder said.
The company on Wednesday said it has entered an agreement to buy a Pine Bluff, Arkansas, paper mill owned by Mondi Group. That mill makes unbleached kraft papers for food, agricultural and industrial applications.
“The addition of the Pine Bluff, Arkansas, mill is consistent with the evolution of our company and fully complements our overall mill system, product offerings and strategic direction,” Snyder said.
He would not reveal the terms of the acquisition, which is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year. He told the Bangor Daily News his company is profitable and has about $500 million in revenue. Up to 95 percent of sales are out of state.
“We’re making the acquisitions to expand our products and keep jobs,” he said.
The 500 people working in Madawaska will keep their jobs, he said. The company has 1,220 workers in all of its mills now, a number that will increase to 1,400 when the Arkansas deal is completed. No new hires are expected in Madawaska.
“We believe that the interests of the mill and its employees are better served by the new owners where there is a closer long-term strategic alignment,” Clemens Willee, CEO of packaging paper at the Mondi Group, said in a statement.
Another change underway at Twin Rivers involves the No. 8 paper machine, which makes the specialty publishing paper. That market is diminishing, Snyder said, so he wants to add a new type of paper to the machine.
“The $18 million machine conversion project is scheduled to start this fall and be completed the following October, he said.
“I’d like to keep the jobs we have in Maine active. That’s why we’re doing the project,” Snyder said.
Regarding recent trade tensions and threats between the Trump administration and China, he said that so far, “they have not impacted us one way or another.”