Verso announces plans to restart paper machine in Jay, Maine

MIAMISBURG, Ohio — Verso Corp. has announced plans to upgrade the shuttered pulp line and No. 3 paper machine at its Androscoggin Mill in Jay, Maine, enabling this equipment to restart for the manufacture of packaging products.

The paper machine and associated pulping capacity were temporarily idled in January 2017 and shut down in July 2017 as a result of declining demand for the graphic paper products formerly produced on the machine.

With an anticipated completion date in the third quarter of this year, this project will help Verso diversify its product mix into growing market segments and is expected to create approximately 120 full-time jobs at the mill and additional jobs throughout the Maine forest products supply chain. The estimated total capital cost of the project is $17 million, $4 million of which will come from a Maine Technology Asset Fund 2.0 challenge grant administered by the Maine Technology Institute. Funds from the grant will be become available as certain milestones in the project are reached.

“Verso identified this upgrade and restart of the No. 3 paper machine and associated equipment at the Androscoggin Mill as part of our continuing development of a holistic strategy that includes repositioning of certain assets, and we want to thank Gov. (Paul) LePage and the Maine Technology Institute for their support in helping to make it possible,” said Verso Chief Executive Officer B. Christopher DiSantis. “When this project is completed, the Androscoggin Mill will be more competitive in the global marketplace and better positioned for future success.”

Verso operates seven manufacturing facilities, including pulp and paper mills in Quinnesec and Escanaba.

Earlier this year, Verso announced that its Strategic Alternatives Committee would explore the possibility of selling the entire company outright, or merging with another. Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc., Verso’s financial adviser, was directed in September 2017 to identify and evaluate a range of transactions to maximize value to Verso stockholders, including potentially selling individual mills.