No new information from Halifax meeting, says NewPage union spokesman

Nancy King
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[Point Tupper, NS]— A spokesperson for the union representing workers at NewPage Port Hawkesbury said he is “somewhat disappointed” that they came away from a meeting this week (Nov 7) without more information about potential buyers for the paper mill.

Steve MacDougall, recording secretary for Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Local 972, said they travelled to Monday’s meeting (Nov 7) in Halifax thinking they would be able to meet with representatives of Sanabe & Associates, the investment bank which is assisting monitor Ernst & Young in evaluating offers for the mill’s assets. He added they had hoped to get more information about the two bidders who have indicated they’re interested in continuing to operate the mill as a going concern. However, that didn’t happen and no representatives of Sanabe attended the meeting. Instead, they met with Ernst & Young and members of NewPage Port Hawkesbury’s senior management team.

“Basically we reviewed the process from the start up to the present time, we really didn’t get any information that we didn’t already know,” MacDougall said. “It was a long drive to Halifax and back for a 20-minute meeting.”

Two other bidders have indicated they would sell off the mill’s assets.

There are tight deadlines in place to conclude the sale, although MacDougall said the union was told there could be some extensions granted if they are required. The union, which was without a contract when the mill shut down in September, hasn’t yet been directly contacted by any of the parties considering purchasing the mill.

“That’s what we thought we were going to Halifax for ... or at least be informed as to who they were, and possibly introduced to the two parties that want to run the mill,” he said. “We can speculate on what they may or may not want, but until we know who they are, it’s pretty hard to say what their intentions are.”

More information may be available later this week.

They were told that the two potential buyers who are interested in operating the mill are currently taking a close look at financial matters and determining what needs to be done to turn the plant into a money-maker.

“There’s all kinds of pieces of that puzzle and we’re only one small piece,” MacDougall said.

The papermaker shut down in September after the company sought protection from its creditors. A new owner is being sought under a court-approved process. An affidavit filed with the court indicated the mill lost $50 million in the year before it shut down.

Cape Breton Post



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