Verso CEO resigns shortly after paper mill closure

Mill closure affected hundreds of workers

MADISON, Wis. -- Verso Corporation CEO Adam St. John resigned as of Sept. 30, three months after the closure of the massive Wisconsin Rapids paper mill.

The company’s board of directors named Randy Nebel, a member of the company’s board, as interim CEO. Nebel is a former executive of KapStone Paper and Packing and of Longview Fibre Paper and Packing, Inc.

With the onset of Covid 19, Verso’s sales had dropped by 55 percent in the second quarter from the same period in the previous year and the company lost $34 million. However, it is debt free and declared a $3 per share special dividend and initiated a regular quarterly dividend of $.10 per share.

Meanwhile, the Duluth News Tribune reported that Verso had initiated in January a project at the Duluth mill (which was also closed this summer) to initiate conversion of some production at that mill from graphic and printing paper to packaging. The project involved a $6 million capital investment. A scheduled second investment has not been made, the News Tribune reported.

Demand for packaging paper has been growing as retail business moves toward direct to consumers.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D - Wisconsin) urged Verso to sell the mill to a buyer showing a commitment to its workers and the Wisconsin Rapids community. She urged the company to select new owners that are “committed to north central Wisconsin’s future”. The mill has gone through several ownership changes since its sale by the Mead family 20 years ago.

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