Wausau Paper shareholder feud contuesWisconsin Business
-- A public feud continues to escalate between the Wausau Paper Corporation and the Wall Street firm that’s trying to take control of the 114-year-old paper-maker.
WAUSAU - A public feud continues to escalate between the Wausau Paper Corporation and the Wall Street firm that’s trying to take control of the 114-year-old paper-maker.
The Starboard Value hedge fund of New York owns much of Wausau’s stock. And on Monday, Starboard said the company would be better off moving out of Wisconsin. The hedge firm also promised to nominate what would be a majority on Wausau’s board, to push the company into a major restructuring. Wausau Paper fired back yesterday, calling Starboard’s statement inaccurate and disturbing. And Wausau said it was doing what’s best for all its shareholders.
Starboard is trying to get Wausau to focus on a more profitable market for restroom towels – which are made in Ohio and Kentucky – instead of its packaging and food-wrapping lines. Wausau closed its Brokaw plant for writing papers plant a year ago, amid pressure from Starboard. Last Friday, Wausau said it would sell three mills in Mosinee, Rhinelander, and Brainerd, Minnesota that employ a thousand people in all. Wausau wanted to make those plants profitable, but Starboard said it would be futile – and even selling them wouldn’t help.
Wausau spokesman Perry Grueber said it’s natural for workers at those plants to be concerned, but he could not comment further. Meanwhile, WSAU Radio in Wausau says the squabble is not affecting the company’s stock price. It closed down a penny yesterday at nine-dollars a share – about the same where it was since Friday’s sale announcement. Wausau’s stock rose about 20-cents that day.