Global Win Wickliffe LLC, a Chinese-owned paper products manufacturer, will reopen the former Verso Corp. mill in west Kentucky’s Ballard County with a $150 million investment expected to create 500 full-time jobs.
Executives of Global Win Wickliffe signed a purchase agreement with representatives of Verso to buy the facility for approximately $16 million. The sale is expected to close around the beginning of the 3Q of this year. The new owners plan to refurbish the mill with new equipment and updated technology. Global Win Wickliffe executives anticipate reopening the mill by the end of 2018, with the facility producing pulp and brown paper packaging. The paper mill will be the buyer’s first US facility.
Verso CEO B. Christopher DiSantis said the sale will benefit all parties, including the community, the West Kentucky region and state.
“Verso is very pleased to enter into this purchase agreement to sell our Wickliffe subsidiary and the associated assets, which will generate cash and eliminate our annual carrying costs of the mill,” DiSantis said. “The transaction is also a victory for the local community and state of Kentucky, which will benefit from future investment in the site.”
Verso, based in Miamisburg, Ohio, idled the facility in November 2015, furloughing 310 employees, as demand diminished for the mill’s coated paper products. The company closed the mill in July 2016 and worked alongside state and local economic developers to identify and vet potential buyers.
When the deal closes, the Wickliffe mill will become Kentucky’s eighth Chinese-owned facility. Currently, Chinese-owned operations employ approximately 8,200 people statewide, including about 6,000 at the GE Appliance Park in Louisville and 1,600 at Lexmark International in Lexington.