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May 31, 2021

SIG Combibloc to sell Whakatāne Mill in New Zealand

Whakatāne Mill (WML) will cease production of liquid packaging board following the acquisition.

SIG Combibloc (SIG) has entered into an agreement to sell its Whakatāne Mill (WML) in Bay of Plenty, New Zealand to a consortium of investors.

The mill is one of the largest employers in the region with more than 210 staff.

The consortium will enable continuation of operations at WML.

Smurfit Consortium leader Dr Dermot Smurfit and his other European consortium members have experience in owning and operating paper packaging businesses.

In March, the mill owner SIG announced plans to cease mill operations after failing to secure a buyer, but later received an expression of interest from a potential buyer.

Smurfit Consortium spokesman Ian Halliday said that the consortium looked forward to developing a competitive operation for offering support to customers in New Zealand and worldwide.

“We believe that the Whakatāne Mill has a very bright future as the only folding box Board Mill in Oceania, and we intend to invest heavily in the Mill to support both our customers and New Zealand’s forest products industry.”

Halliday will become chairman of the Whakatāne Mill.

Under the new owner, Whakatane Mill will cease liquid packaging board production and prioritise customers’ requirements for high quality folding box board, carrier board and food service board.

The consortium will retain all senior management in the mill.

WML general manager Juha Verajankorva said: “This is a welcome development for Whakatāne and the wider Bay of Plenty region. It’s also great news for the New Zealand paper packaging sector and we appreciate the positive support of our workforce, our suppliers and customers in working towards this outcome which has been welcomed by all. ”

In February this year, SIG Combibloc completed the transaction to acquire the remaining 50% stake in its Middle East & Africa joint venture SIG Combibloc Obeikan, from its partner Obeikan Investment Group.

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