Chinese firm acquires idled Kentucky paper mill

Global Win Wickliffe plans to convert former Verso mill to one that produces kraft paper.

August 31, 2018

China-based investment group Global Win Wickliffe LLC has acquired the idled Verso Paper mill in Ballard County, Kentucky, with plans to reopen the facility by the end of this year after investing in equipment and technology at the mill, which has been idle since mid-2016. 

Boston-based forest products information services provider RISI says sources have indicated to it that Global Win Wickliffe is investing on behalf of Shanying International, one of China's five largest containerboard producers. If so, the mill in Kentucky would be Shanying's first pulp and paper production facility in the United States, according to RISI.

According to a news release issued by the office of Kentucky Gov. Matt Berlin, the company plans to invest about $150 million to upgrade the mill, following up on its $16 million acquisition of the facility from Verso.

The Kentucky governor’s office says the mill is the first in the United States for Global Win Wickliffe. When operational, the mill will be capable of producing pulp and kraft packaging paper. Prior to closing, the mill when operated by Verso made coated paper.

“Since the facility’s closure two years ago, our economic development team has worked tirelessly alongside Verso to find the right match for the region’s workforce, and we are confident we have found that in the buyer,” says Gov. Bevin. “We want to thank Global Win Wickliffe for locating its first U.S. operation in Kentucky, and we wish the company much success in this exciting venture.”

“Global Win is excited to join the people of Kentucky and Ballard County in restarting the Wickliffe mill,” says Tom Lawson, director of strategy for Global Win. “This is as much of an investment in people as in new equipment and technology. We look forward to a long successful future for all the stakeholders of Global Win Wickliffe.”

To assist in the deal, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives of up to $25 million through its Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets. 

In addition, Global Win can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network, which offers companies no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives.