Shareholders of US-based coated paper producer Verso have approved the company’s previously announced merger with Swedish packaging material and solution provider BillerudKorsnäs.

During a special meeting, shareholders voted by around 98.5% to 1.5% to approve the merger. This represented around 73% of the outstanding shares of Verso’s common stock.

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The approval comes after BillerudKorsnäs entered an agreement in December last year to purchase all Verso’s outstanding shares for $27 each in cash, amounting to around $825m in total.

Verso specialises in producing packaging paper for higher-end packaging and printing applications, as well as graphic and speciality paper products.

Last year, the company reported net sales of $1.28bn and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $223m.

The deal’s completion is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of approvals from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

It is expected to close by the end of next month.

The transaction secured approval from the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services on 25 February, while the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order authorising the deal on 8 March.

BillerudKorsnäs plans to convert Verso’s Escanaba Mill into a sustainable and fully integrated paperboard production site after the merger.

At the time of signing the agreement, BillerudKorsnäs president and CEO Christoph Michalski said: “The combination of BillerudKorsnäs’ expertise in high-quality virgin fibre packaging materials and Verso’s attractive assets creates an excellent platform for long-term profitable growth.

“We will obtain cost-effective production of coated virgin fibre material in the Midwestern United States.

“We also plan to sequentially transform part of the business into paperboard production while continuing to serve the US customers.”

In addition to the merger, Verso’s stockholders have approved other unspecified proposals related to the transaction.