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Wausau Paper ends 114 years of papermaking in Wisconsin

WAUSAU - A Wausau firm ended 114 years of paper-making in Wisconsin yesterday. The Wausau Paper Corporation signed a final agreement to sell its mills in Rhinelander and Mosinee to a new company sponsored by KPS Capital Partners of New York.

The private equity firm is also acquiring Thilmany Paper mills in Kaukauna and De Pere, and it has a new name for the group - Expera Speciality Solutions. It will employ a total of 1,800 people at the four Wisconsin mills. Raquel Palmer of KPS says it will be the largest specialty paper company in North America.

Wausau Paper will net about $110-million from the sale. It will not hold an equity ownership in the new firm, but there's still a chance to get some contingency payments if Expera reaches certain performance goals.

Meanwhile, Wausau Paper also unveiled a new tissue product to be made at its plant in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. It's a cloth-like paper towel called Dubl-Nature that uses 100-percent recycled fiber. It's the first of two new product lines planned at Harrodsburg. Many of Wausau's products are sold to commercial users, but some are available to shoppers in the retail market.