International Paper has agreed with its Chinese coated board joint venture partner, Shandong Sun Holding Group Co., Ltd., to sell its 55% equity interest in th e joint venture (IP-Sun JV) for about $US23 million in cash. Additionally, IP will remove about $400 million of currently outstanding debt from its balance sheet, along with the other assets and liabilities of the IP-Sun JV, following completion of the transaction.
IP also said it is pursuing options for its corrugated box business in China and South East Asia and has signed a non-binding letter of intent with a prospective buyer in China.
Mark Sutton, IP’s chairman and CEO said “The Company … concluded (it) could be more effective supplying this region … primarily through our Ilim joint venture in Russia and from the US.” The IP-Sun JV has one mill in Shandong Province with four paper machines and about 1.4 million tonnes/year of coated board capacity. IP’s Industrial Packaging Asia business has 18 corrugated box plants in China and South East Asia and a workforce of some 3,000 employees.
• Meanwhile, Shandong Sun said it plans to build a 700,000-ton/year fluffpulp mill valued at $US1.36 billion in southeast Arkansas. A greenfield project, the start-up is said to be planned for 2018.
• Another northern Chinese papermaker, Shandong Tranlin Paper Co. Ltd. recently broke ground for a $US2-billion investment in a paper and fertilizer plant in Chesterfield, VA. Its US subsidiary, Tranlin Inc. says it will use farm waste such as straw and corn stalks to make ti ssue and tableware papers and also produce humus-based organic fertilizer fr om residues from the papermaking process for sale to local farmers.