Green Bay Innovation Group

Private Equity & the Paper Industry

Private Equity & the Paper Industry

The past couple of years, we have witnessed a number of paper companies in Wisconsin purchased by Private Equity Firms. Based on business goals, it is questionable to expect them to re-invest in the Paper Industry. 

We have witnessed Pixelle Specialty Paper close down one paper mill and invest $26 million in an Ohio facility.  We have seen Wynnchurch Capital L.P. owners of Appvion announced a significant investment in new equipment slated for delivery and installation in 2023.  

We have seen ND Paper in China purchasing the former Verso Paper Mill and 3 other mills in the USA. We are seeing Domtar being purchased by Paper Excellence based out of Asia with paper mills in Wisconsin along with the most recent purchase of Resolute Forest Products with a paper mill in Menominee, Michigan.  

We have seen Billerudkorsnas of Sweden purchase the former Verso Company with facilities in Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan. We have seen Sustana Fiber in De Pere being acquired by Blackstone Tactical a Private Equity Firm.  Finally, the former Midwest Paper Group in Combined Locks sold to Mexico-based Company McKinley Paper a U.S. subsidiary of Mexico-based Bio PAPPEL.

In 2018, we saw WS Packaging the 14th largest Printing Company in the USA with annual revenues of $1.4 Billion based in Green Bay purchased by Platinum Equity and resold a number of times leaving Green Bay as their headquarters. 

 The Business Community and the State of Wisconsin must prepare a comprehensive plan to support the current paper mills and help them reinvest in Wisconsin through new machines or rebuild existing facilities instead of leaving Wisconsin! We are seeing too many new paper machines being built outside of Wisconsin and the United States.  Wisconsin has ALL the RESOURCES to make paper in Wisconsin and to keep Wisconsin as the top paper producing state in the USA!

In this issue of GBIG NEWS, we have many articles supporting the case of the need for paper projecting very positive compound annual growth rates!  The Paper Industry is not going away and actual projections support it as a strong industry to invest in.  As in any industry, we do see some changes and we can adjust to it. 

China is the largest consumer of paper and paperboard at 124,826 tons followed by the USA at 63,567.   In addition, consumer markets are putting pressure on reducing plastics, which will have a very positive impact on using more paper products. Some elements of the printing industry are currently turning to films due to the shortages of the paper supply. This market can be reclaimed through the influx of new paper capacity.    

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