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Report: Verso and NewPage Back in Merger Talks

A deal could trigger outcry from magazine publishers.



Matt Kinsman By Matt Kinsman
01/18/2011

NewPage Paper and Verso--the largest makers of coated paper and the subject of merger rumors last year--are back in talks, according to PPI Pulp & Paper.

The report says that NewPage owner Cerberus, and Apollo Management, which has a controlling interest in Verso, are in discussions about NewPage's high levels of debt. Apollo is also the largest holder of NewPage's $800 million second-lien bonds.

Possible outcomes include Cerberus maintaining a stake in NewPage but sharing ownership by converting debt held by Apollo into an ownership stake, according to the report.

Verso and NewPage control a combined 55 percent of the North American coated freesheet market and 50 percent of the continent's coated groundwood market, according to anonymous blogger Dead Tree Edition, and a deal between the two would cause a major outcry among paper buyers such as magazine publishers, printers, catalog companies.

While industry consolidation has helped the North American uncoated freesheet market move toward profitability, it hasn't worked so well for newsprint, according to Dead Tree.

Last month, NewPage Paper dropped a $20-$50/ton January price hike that it previously announced for a range of coated and uncoated paper products after other paper vendors declined to follow suit.

Matt Kinsman By Matt Kinsman
01/18/2011







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