Norske Skog’s EBITDA in the first quarter of 2021 was NOK 112 million, a decrease from NOK 146 million in the fourth quarter of 2020. The markets are still impacted by the Covid-19 imposed restrictions, but are expected to improve during the year as a result of both already effectuated, but also newly announced capacity closures. As announced earlier today, Norske Skog’s board of directors has made a EUR 100 million investment decision to convert one machine at the Bruck (Austria) industrial site from newsprint to recycled containerboard production. This is the first major step of the two planned European conversion projects in the group’s strategy of establishing Norske Skog as a leading independent European producer of recycled containerboard. Cash flow from operations was NOK 163 million in the quarter compared to NOK 73 million in the previous quarter, mainly due to a reduction in working capital related to Norwegian CO2-compensation received for 2020 in the quarter. Operating earnings in the first quarter of 2021 were NOK 204 million compared to operating earnings in the fourth quarter of 2020 of NOK -1 276 million. The quarter was positively affected by non-cash change in fair value of energy contracts in Norway and New Zealand amounting to NOK 199 million. Net profit in the quarter was NOK 194 million compared to a net loss of NOK -1 363 million in the previous quarter. Net interest-bearing debt was NOK 401 million at the end of the first quarter, with an equity ratio of 43 %.
A hearing ended Monday after nearly seven hours of discussion, to decide the future of Appleton Coated and its more than 600 workers. It looks like the future could be a little bit brighter for those workers.
The plant is in Combined Locks and makes products for high-end commercial printing, and text books.
It was auctioned off last week.
Appleton Coated employees left Outagamie County Court Monday feeling hopeful and vindicated.
“We now have the time for people to finish their due diligence and for companies to make proper decisions,” the United Steelworkers Local president Tony Swanningson.
The top bidder in last week’s auction for the mill was Industrial Assets, a California-based liquidation company. It agreed to buy Appleton Coated for $21 million.
The hearing started Friday, but an Outagamie County judge wanted some more time to read through the purchase agreements.
“I don’t know that we would even have this discussion if not for the efforts up to this point,” said Judge Gregory Gill, praising all parties’ willingness to work together.
During Monday’s hearing the judge was supposed to either approve of the $21 million purchase agreement or deny the sale. However, some changes were made to those original purchase agreements after a different offer came through from the employee union and a lending firm.
“We will work to do our very best to provide an operating budget to each of the steelworkers and the receiver. We will work very hard. That’s not a guarantee, but if it’s not done by the end of the day tomorrow it will be done the following day,” explained Mark Friedlander, Industrial Assets attorney.
Now, Industrial Assets says it will pay $20 million , with more money to provide an operating budget to keep the plant open for 45 days.
Over those 45 days Appleton Coated will run with only 200 employees to fulfill current orders. The mill typically employs more than 600 people.
“We were down by a few touchdowns and this really was a hard-fought effort to get to the goal line,” Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson told FOX 11 News, following the hearing.
The hope is that during those 45 days a new buyer steps forward to purchase the mill and continue operating it as a mill with as many employees still working as possible.
“We came out of this with a huge win today. Going into this we were looking at a company buying us that was, literally they liquidate assets. We now have a door open to have a viable company come through and get this as an ongoing business,” Swanningson told us.