RHINELANDER - Wausau Paper today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to sell its specialty paper business to a new company sponsored by KPS Capital Partners L.P. ("KPS"), a New York-based private equity firm with significant experience in the paper industry.
The new company will be known as Expera Specialty Solutions, LLC ("Expera").
KPS, as previously announced, has also entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the specialty paper business of Packaging Dynamics Corporation
("Thilmany"), which operates paper mills in De Pere and Kaukauna, Wisconsin.
Expera will combine the Thilmany business with Wausau Paper's specialty paper business to create a leading North American manufacturer of specialty paper products for the food packaging, industrial, and pressure-sensitive release liner segments.
A collective bargaining agreement covering employees at the Mosinee, Rhinelander, and Kaukauna facilities has been negotiated and ratified.
The collective bargaining agreement and the Thilmany acquisition agreement were both conditions to Wausau Paper entering into its agreement with KPS.
Key highlights of the transaction are as follows:
• The transaction will result in net cash proceeds to Wausau Paper of approximately $110 million after settlement of transaction-related liabilities, transaction costs and taxes.
• Expera will acquire the assets of Wausau Paper's Rhinelander and Mosinee mills; the assets of the company's Brainerd mill are not included in the transaction.
• Wausau Paper will retain defined benefit pension and other post-retirement benefit obligations; however, effective with the closing of the transaction, approximately $41 million of future liability will be eliminated.
• Wausau Paper will not hold any equity ownership in Expera.
• Wausau Paper will have the opportunity to receive a contingent payment that would be equal to what the holder of a 5% equity interest in Expera would receive if certain performance thresholds and KPS liquidity events occur.
Hank Newell, president and CEO of Wausau Paper, commented, "This transaction accomplishes all of our key objectives: divesting our paper business in a way that creates value for our shareholders, creating a specialty business under new ownership with the scale and product breadth to compete globally, and narrowing our focus to accelerating growth in our tissue business."
The transaction has received required regulatory approval under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act. Other customary conditions to closing, including third party financing, remain.
The Wausau Paper sale to Expera is also conditioned upon Expera completing the acquisition of the Thilmany business.
While the company expects to finalize the transaction in the second or third quarter of 2013, there can be no certainty or assurance about the timing or completion of a transaction.
Mesirow Financial, Inc. and Ruder Ware, L.L.S.C. have been the financial and legal advisors to Wausau Paper.
RHINELANDER - Cancer survivors and supporters gathered at Ministry St. Mary's Hospital for the 10th annual Celebration of Life Thursday. The event honors those battling cancer or survivors of cancer and shows people what kinds of services the James Beck Cancer Center offers.
The center's namesake lost his life to cancer, but now others will be able to benefit from his gift to the hospital.
"With his vision and his dollars we were able to put this cancer center here in Rhinelander so patients don't have to travel to larger cities," said Director of Cancer Services Kimberly Hetland.
This year's speaker was Mike Regole, a survivor of tonsil cancer. He spoke about his experience at the center, how family and support affected his journey, and how he ran a business while having cancer.
MADISON - A $3 billion tax break bill for Taiwan-based electronics giant Foxconn Technology Group is poised to pass the Wisconsin Assembly on a bipartisan vote.
Democratic state Rep. Cory Mason said during debate Thursday that he intends to vote for the bill. He is the first Democrat to publicly say he will back the measure that is being championed by Gov. Scott Walker and fellow Republicans.
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - On a busy stretch of Highway 47 near Lac du Flambeau -- where hundreds of wheels spin at 55 miles-per-hour each day -- just one tire drags at a slower pace, pulled by one man: the Tire Man.
"I guess I'm the only one nutty enough to do it, I suppose," Frank Tarantino said with a laugh.
Tarantino lives in Mercer, but trains for marathons in Lac du Flambeau. Â He started pulling a tire on a chain a few years ago after reading about it in a fitness magazine. Â People often stop to take his picture.
"Little by little you run a little further, a little further," Tarantino said.
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Just a few years ago, crumbling cement, steps, and seats filled Lac du Flambeau's Indian Bowl. Now, a major reconstruction project is halfway done. It will hopefully give people from all over a chance to learn about Native American culture and traditions once again.
"We increase that sense of pride in our community," said Director of Planning and Development Emerson Coy.
Coy still remembers how the old Indian Bowl used to look like.
"It was used in bad shape before that and it was sad," said Coy.
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