Verso sells Bucksport mill for $60 million

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BUCKSPORT, Maine — Verso Paper has reached an agreement to sell its Bucksport mill and related power generation assets to a subsidiary of the Montreal-based American Iron and Metal in January for about $60 million.

Verso reached the sale agreement Friday and disclosed the sale in a filing Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The mill started informing employees of the sale around 4 p.m. Monday, Verso spokesman Bill Cohen said Monday evening.

“Basically we told them that we had a purchase and sale agreement. The only thing we knew for sure is that AIM was going to operate the power island,” he said.

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“Beyond that, we were going to be spending time with AIM over the next few days figuring out what the transition would look like and what the plan was, that we didn’t know any more than that but as soon as we did, we’d let folks know,” he added.

Verso last year sold its mill in Sartell, Minnesota, to AIM Development, the subsidiary of American Iron and Metal. The company demolished and redeveloped that mill site, which had been damaged by a May 2012 explosion and fire.

It was not clear late Monday whether AIM planned to restart the mill. The company also was a bidder for the Great Northern Paper mill in East Millinocket but was unsuccessful.

“Those are all decisions that AIM is going to be making and to be honest, again we’re just going over the next few days have some conversation with them around what a transition will look like and hopefully learn a little bit more about what they intend to do. We’re going to work with them so that process is just underway,” Cohen said.

“My caution is to everybody to be patient with us. We don’t know a lot of detail, and they are going to decide what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it, so we’ll have to wait and see,” he said.

On its website, the parent company describes itself as “one of the most innovative recycling companies in the world,” focused on metal recycling.

“Once AIM is contacted by a potential client, specialists arrive on location – free of charge – to evaluate your needs and create a scrap metal recuperation system that is custom-made for your business,” the company’s website states.

AIM is based in Canada with offices around the world. It lists five offices in Maine, including at 2630 Broadway in Bangor. Its other listed Maine offices are in Caribou, Augusta, Arundel and Oakland.

Verso announced in October that it planned to close its Bucksport mill for good by the end of the year, putting the majority of its 570 employees out of work.

The last of the mill’s three papermaking machines were shut down last week, but all of the employees were to stay on through the end of the month to help clean up and mothball the facility.

Between 50 to 60 employees were to stay on after the mill closure, however, to continue operating the natural gas-powered electrical generation plant at the site, which Verso purchased in February.

BDN writer Dawn Gagnon contributed to this report.

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