Tissue manufacturer emerging as possible buyer of Duluth Verso mill

The potential buyers also own a Wis. facility

(Duluth, Minnesota, photo by Tony Webster)

MADISON, Wis. -- A Wisconsin tissue paper manufacturer has emerged as a potential buyer of the Verso mill in Duluth, Minnesota with a goal of converting it to other paper products, most likely manufacturing tissue paper.

The interest of ST Paper of Oconto Falls, Wisconsin emerged this week when Sharad Tak, who jointly owns ST Paper with his son Sahil Tak, issued a statement in support of legislation introduced in the Minnesota legislature offering financial support for a buyer that would purchase the mill and invest at least $25 million for conversion of the mlll for “new paper grades.” The legislation was introduced by Minn. Rep. Liz Olson, whose district includes Duluth.

If it passes it would provide for a $3 million forgivable loan to support the larger private investment. The state loan legislation requires that employment of at least 80 employees would be maintained for at least five years. The loan could be available to other buyers who qualify.

ST Paper was formed by Sharad and Sahil Tak in 2007 when they purchased the Oconto Falls facility out of bankruptcy. The mill now operates two high speed tissue machines, a recycled fiber processor and a wastewater treatment facility. It produces a range of tissue products and employs 95 people, according to the company’s website.

ST Paper purchased a second mill in 2012 from International Paper in Wight, Virginia. That facility was also reengineered to make tissue paper, and now also employs 90 people.

The Duluth mill employed 220 prior to closing in June. “We’d love to maintain what we had, but the reality is 80 good jobs above the median income in Duluth is a good thing,” Olson told the Duluth News Tribune.

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