Solna, Sweden based BillerudKorsnas AB, the global pulp and paper manufacturer, reported that it will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Miamisburg, Ohio based Verso Corp. for a purchase price of $27 per share in cash, or about $825 million. The Verso shareholders board, which has unanimously approved the merger, is expected to be completed in mid-2022. Under the merger agreement, Verso will become a wholly owned subsidiary of BillerudKorsnas.
BillerudKorsnas plans to convert Verso’s largest facility, its Escanaba, Michigan, mill, into a world-class, sustainable, fully integrated paperboard production site. One machine is expected to be converted by 2025 and a second machine by 2029, with a total capacity of about 1.2 million tons. The Swedish company estimates it will invest up to about $1 billion in the conversion.
BillerudKorsnas plans to continue operating the Quinnesec, Michigan, mill, pictured above, a graphic paper manufacturer of coated freesheet and specialty papers. The Quinnesec mill has the capacity to produce about 430,000 tons of graphic and specialty papers and 240,000 tons of market pulp per year.
The acquisition of Verso is in line with BillerudKorsnas’ strategy to drive profitable growth in paperboard and the ambition to expand into North America. BillerudKorsnas is committed to continuing to serve Verso’s existing customers.
The offer at $27 per share is about $35 more than what Verso’s shares were worth Friday, the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune reported. In a news release, Verso’s president and CEO, Randy Nebel, said the committee carefully negotiated the agreement with BillerudKorsnas, and Verso’s board members believe the transaction “maximizes value for shareholders.”
“We are excited to join forces with BillerudKorsnas and benefit from enhanced opportunities as part of a larger, stronger organization,” Nebel said.
BillerudKorsnas was founded in 2012 and operates seven production units in Sweden and Finland with about 4,400 employees across more than 13 countries, according to its website. It focuses on products that include medical and hygiene, industrial, food and beverages and consumer and luxury. It produces liquid packaging board, used for beverages and other liquids, as well as cartonboard and containerboard. Its paper products are used in packaging for medical equipment and food.
Christoph Michalski, President and CEO of BillerudKorsnas, said the company does not intend to resume production at Verso’s shuttered Wisconsin Rapids mill but is considering the future for that site.