The Watermill Group, a private investment firm headquartered in Lexington, Mass., has received court approval to acquire Manistique Papers, the only company in North America producing high-value uncoated printing and writing paper exclusively from 100-percent recycled fiber. The purchase agreement was finalized following an auction and confidential bidding process.
According to a news release issued by Watermill, Manistique will enhance its portfolio of environmental paper manufacturers, which includes the recycled coated paper producer FutureMark Paper Co. With the acquisition, Watermill brings together two paper companies that produce 100 percent recycled paper in both the coated and uncoated markets. Combined, the two mills produce nearly 300,000 tons of recycled paper per year.
"Over the past 3 to 5 years, sustainability has moved from a corporate nice-to-have to a corporate must-have, especially among Fortune 500s," says Steven Karol, Watermill founder and managing partner. "This development is reflected in the success of our FutureMark investment, which has leveraged its unrivaled environmental position to significantly outperform competitors in a declining sector.”
He adds, “We'll use the strategies proven at FutureMark to revitalize and grow Manistique, building a stronger employer for the local community, driving new investor value by leading the high-value market for sustainable paper and creating a wider assortment of environmental paper products for our Fortune 500 customers."
Manistique Papers has a 72-acre manufacturing site in Manistique, Mich., which can produce up to 500 tons of recycled pulp per day and about 130,000 tons per year of uncoated, 100-percent-recycled paper.
The Watermill Group says it will run both organizations as sister companies under a unified management structure led by current FutureMark President and CEO Steve Silver. While unified management is designed to ensure strategic alignment and close cooperation between Manistique and FutureMark in the marketplace, each company will be owned and operated separately.
Silver says, "We believe we can help bring new value and opportunity to Manistique's operation while expanding FutureMark's leadership in environmental paper. As reflected by our success with FutureMark, which saw revenues climb 15 percent in a declining market last year, we've found a business model for the paper industry that works and we're eager to apply this strategy to Manistique while allowing both organizations to flourish as separate, focused operations.”
He adds, “The customers of each operation will now have a much wider array of environmental papers to choose from.”