Paper Excellence Canada buys Catalyst Paper, which owns the Crofton mill. (File photo)

Catalyst Paper on Vancouver Island sold to Paper Excellence

Catalyst employs about 1,500 forestry workers in Crofton, Port Alberni and Powell River

Catalyst Paper, which owns the Crofton pulp and paper mill, has been sold to Paper Excellence Canada.

Paper Excellence is a BC-headquartered company with close to two million tonnes of pulp production capacity through five operating mills in Canada and two mills in France.

Catalyst Paper’s purchase by PEC, which is subject to regulatory review and final approvals, comes after months of joint efforts by the B.C. government, Catalyst Paper and potential purchasers to maintain the viability of the company’s operations.

How much Catalyst was sold for has yet to be released.

A press release from Catalyst states that the sale takes in all of its assets, including its three Vancouver Island mills.

Catalyst employs about 1,500 forestry workers in Crofton, Port Alberni and Powell River. Catalyst also generates more than $2 billion in annual economic activity in B.C.

RELATED: American duties against Catalyst Paper dropped

“When complete, this transaction will benefit all of our stakeholders, including our customers, employees, suppliers, the communities where we operate, and B.C.’s pulp and paper and forest products industries,” said Ned Dwyer, Catalyst’s president and CEO.

PEC will also assume all Catalyst’s obligations to its employees, including pension plans, as part of the deal.

The sale still requires the approval of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, as well as the approval of at least two-thirds of the votes cast by Catalyst shareholders at a special meeting that has yet to be held.

The sale is expected to close by the end of this year, or the beginning of 2019.

“Paper Excellence is evolving into a major player within Canada’s forest industry,” said Brian Baarda, Paper Excellence’s CEO. “This announcement is a continued step towards Paper Excellence’s long-term growth plan within Canada and the province. With this acquisition, Paper Excellence is clearly demonstrating its commitment to British Columbia.”

The purchase of Catalyst follows quickly on the heels of regulatory changes made by the provincial government in July to protect the pensions of Catalyst retirees and workers in the event that only part of the company was sold.

RELATED: Province steps in to protect Catalyst Paper’s pension plan

“Keeping these operations open and jobs in place shows what British Columbians can achieve when we come together and put workers, families and communities first,” said Premier John Horgan. “This purchase by Paper Excellence Canada is another major vote of confidence in our province and people. More importantly, it will help keep families and communities strong as we continue to revitalize our coastal forest sector. ”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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