Paper Market Update
[May, 2023 Edition]

Sappi’s deal to sell three European mills to Aurelius Group falls through
Sappi announced that the intended sale of three of its European mills to Aurelius Group had lapsed, dealing a blow to its strategy to reduce exposure to the graphic paper market. Sappi has been looking to exit the graphic market in favor of moving more toward the pulp and packaging markets. Asset manager Aurelius Group’s winning offer for the Maastricht Mill in the Netherlands, the Stockstadt Mill in Germany and the Kirkniemi Mill in Finland, had been announced in September. The transaction was subject to standard suspensive conditions but the stated time frame lapsed before the parties could come to an agreement. Europe CEO Marco Eikelenboom said Sappi would continue to manage the three mills as part of its overall portfolio and that Sappi will maintain its strategic focus to reduce its exposure to graphic paper in favor of segments like packaging, specialty papers, pulp, and biomaterials.
Norske Skog Saugbrugs stops production on PM 6 due to landslide in Halden, Norway
On April 27th there was a landslide at Norske Skog Saugbrugs that had a material impact on building structures, cranes, and other machinery and equipment relating to PM6, which resulted in a production stop. Sven Ombudstvedt, CEO of Norske Skog said, “We are working to get a full overview of the situation, but at the moment it is considered too dangerous to enter the area. This will result in a production stop on PM6 for a longer period. Most importantly, no one was harmed in the landslide.” Operations continue at Saugbrugs PM4 which has a capacity of 100,000 tonnes of SC magazine paper. Saugbrugs PM6 has a capacity of 260,000 tonnes of SC magazine paper. The duration of the PM6 closure and resulting production impact is currently uncertain.
Billerud expects to restart Escanaba mill on May 8
Billerud’s idled Escanaba, MI paper mill is expected to restart May 8, after a three-week stoppage caused by a blastomycosis fungal infection outbreak that affected several workers at the plant early in March through mid-April. Billerud decided to close the Escanaba mill on Apr. 14 to facilitate additional cleaning at the site based on recommendations from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and other organizations. Billerud foresees a financial impact of the Escanaba downtime of around $10-15 million. CEO Christoph Michalski estimates that 15,000-20,000 tons of paper production will be lost at the Escanaba mill due to the three weeks of downtime. The Escanaba mill has a capacity of 730,000 tons/yr of coated graphic paper and specialty paper for labels on three machines.