ND Paper LLC has increased its presence in Maine, reaching an agreement to purchase the Old Town pulp mill that closed three years ago, saying that it will create more than 100 jobs in the Penobscot County community.

The U.S. subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Nine Dragons Paper Holdings Ltd. recently purchased the Catalyst paper mill in Rumford and hopes its latest deal will be completed in 30 days. The sale is a cash deal for an undisclosed sum.

“We are absolutely thrilled to restart the Old Town Mill and return well over 100 high paying jobs to Penobscot County,” Ken Liu, CEO of ND Paper, said in a statement Wednesday. “By leveraging our existing manufacturing platform in Maine, combined with the financial capacity to wisely invest in the mill’s production capabilities, we expect to create a very strong future for this facility.”

ND Paper plans to make capital investments in Old Town and restart the mill in the first quarter of 2019 with the capability of annually producing 275,000 air dried metric tons of unbleached kraft pulp.

ON HEELS OF RUMFORD BUY

ND Paper purchased what is now called the Rumford Mill in June and this week announced it will invest $300 million in that mill and another it owns in Biron, Wisconsin, over the next two years. ND Paper said the $111 million investment in the Rumford Mill will support 650 jobs and create another 50.

ND Paper is headquartered in Oak Brook Terrace, Illinois. Nine Dragons Paper is Asia’s largest producer of containerboard, which is most commonly used in making cardboard boxes.

According to Wednesday’s statement, ND Paper entered into the purchase agreement with the Old Town Mill’s current owners, OTM Holdings, LLC.

The agreement calls for ND Paper to acquire the bleached kraft pulp mill, as well as 100 acres of property in Old Town.

Prior to the mill being idled in the fourth quarter of 2015, the mill manufactured and distributed 155,000 air dried metric tons of bleached hardwood kraft pulp annually.

Old Town City Council President David Mahan said the purchase should benefit the community, particularly with the promise of more than 100 new jobs and a $25 million investment.

“A special thanks to ND Paper for investing in our city. Welcome to Old Town,” Mahan said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, represents Old Town and said the decision to acquire the mill represents a huge victory for the state’s economy.

“I’m extremely excited about today’s news, one of the many big wins for Maine’s economy and our forest products industry,” Poliquin said in a statement.

Until now, the Old Town Mill faced an uncertain future.

A Connecticut-based liquidation consortium, MFGR LLC, bought the Old Town Mill in January 2016 after it was closed in 2015. It was initially feared that MFGR would sell the mill for scrap, but instead MFGR worked with city officials on a plan to redevelop the site.

LEPAGE PRAISES ACQUISITION

In January 2018, Old Town Holdings LLC, purchased the mill with plans to redevelop it into a wood fiber-based complex.

Gov. Paul LePage praised the Old Town Mill purchase, mentioning in a statement that he knew the mill would eventually reopen.

“I want to congratulate ND Paper for showing the confidence and vision to get it back up and running,” LePage said in a statement.

“This is just the latest example of new investment and career opportunities throughout our forest products industry. It’s a trend we expect will continue as we work with various investors and projects in areas such as biofuels, cross-laminated timber and pellets,” the governor added.

ND Paper expects to complete the transaction in the next thirty days, subject to customary closing conditions and approvals.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]