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Venture capital group continues to pressure Wausau Paper


UNDATED (WSAU)  The largest stockholder in the Wausau Paper Corporation stepped up its efforts yesterday to increase its share of the firm, after saying it wanted to move the business out of Wisconsin. It came on a day when Wausau Paper announced a much smaller loss than a year ago – $2.5-million in the last quarter, down from $29-million at the same time in 2011.

The Starboard Value hedge fund of Manhattan owns 14.8-percent of the firm – and it said yesterday that it’s seeking an exemption from the company’s 15-percent limit of stock by a single owner. Starboard said Wausau’s current board has been quote, “unwilling to explore value-maximizing alternatives … and has instead only been interested in maintaining the status quo.” Starboard said the so-called “poison pill” on its stock was adopted by Wausau’s board without stockholder approval, and it goes against standard Wall Street practices. And Starboard vowed again to get enough members on the board to take control of the paper firm.

A month ago Starboard claimed credit for Wausau’s sudden announcement that it would sell its three remaining Midwest paper mills in Mosinee, Rhinelander, and Brainerd Minnesota. Wausau held a conference call yesterday to announce its results – and Wall Street bank analyst Mark Wilde scolded Wausau Paper officials for making quote, “bad capital decisions” for investing millions in troubled paper mills.

Meanwhile, in Rhinelander yesterday, Governor Scott Walker said he contacted Wausau’s management last week about the possibility of keeping jobs in Mosinee and Rhinelander. Walker said he was under the impression that the firm wanted a buyer to keep the operations going. But that was before yesterday’s developments.