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Wausau Paper to close MN plant by the end of June

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WAUSAU, WI (WTAQ) - Wausau Paper said Thursday it would close its mill in Brainerd Minnesota by the end of June, after management had denied claims by its largest stockholder that the plant and two others were “troubled.”

About 130 people will lose their jobs in Brainerd, which was one of three paper mills that Wausau had put up for sale. It was not immediately known if this changes prospects for the other two plants the firm’s trying to sell in Mosinee and Rhinelander.

Wausau Paper cited a number of reasons for the Brainerd closing – including a fast exit from a declining business for printed papers, increased competition from Asia, and the recent economic struggles.

Wausau spent $27 million a year ago to convert the Brainerd plant so it made papers for various packages instead of papers for printing and writing.

The company has been getting pressure from its largest stockholder, the Starboard Value hedge fund, to move out of Wisconsin and focus on paper towels used in public restrooms. Those towels are not produced in the Badger State, but in Ohio and Kentucky instead.

Starboard has long claimed that Wausau Paper is way undervalued – and it’s been trying without success to get its own members elected to the company’s board.

Wausau Paper was founded in 1899. Its original paper plant in Brokaw shut down a year ago, leaving 450 people out of work. 

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