B.C. Premier John Horgan, third from left, assists executives from Paper Excellence Canada and local politicians unveil a new sign at the at the Crofton mill on Monday indicating the facility is now a part of PEC (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Paper Excellence finalizes deal to acquire Crofton’s Catalyst Paper

Sale includes Crofton mill, plus mills in Port Alberni and Powell River

The addition of Catalyst Paper to the company puts the “paper” in Paper Excellence Canada, said PEP CEO Brian Baarda.

Baarda was joined by B.C. Premier John Horgan, North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring, MLA Doug Routley and other dignitaries and company officials on March 18 at the Crofton pulp and paper mill to celebrate the completion of the deal that adds Catalyst Paper’s Crofton mill, as well as its two mills in Port Alberni and Powell River, to PEC’s’s assets.

RELATED STORY: CATALYST PAPER TO BE SOLD TO PAPER EXCELLENCE CANADA

Horgan said he’s grateful to PEC for committing to B.C.’s forest industry and helping to move it forward.

“Last year, we stepped up to protect pensions for Catalyst employees and stood up against unfair U.S. trade tariffs because when forestry is successful, B.C. is successful,” Horgan said, while dozens of mill workers in work vests and hard hats looked on.

“Our government will keep working hard to revitalize the coastal forest industry, and today’s announcement shows that others are committed to the work too.”

The B.C.-based Paper Excellence, which had five operating mills in Canada and two mills in France before its acquisition of Catalyst Paper and its three mills, has quickly grown to be one of the largest pulp producers in North America, producing 2.7-million tonnes of pulp and paper products over the past decade.

Catalyst has also been generating more than $2 billion in annual economic activity in B.C. and, with the acquisition now complete, PEC’s product range expands to include printing papers, specialty and packaging papers and increased pulp production to service its customers worldwide.

Catalyst brings about 1,500 forestry workers to PEC, including about 570 at the Crofton mill, as well as at its other two mills in Port Alberni and Powell River.

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

RELATED STORY: PROVINCE STEPS IN TO PROTECT CATALYST PAPER’S PENSION PLAN

PEC officials have said during negotiations that the company will assume all Catalyst’s obligations to its employees, including pension plans, as part of the deal.

Baarda said the acquisition of Catalyst is a continued step towards PEC’s long-term growth plan within Canada’s pulp and paper industry and clearly demonstrates its commitment to B.C.

RELATED STORY: NEW OWNERS OF CROFTON MILL SEE BRIGHT FUTURE FOR INDUSTRY

“Together, these combined operations will improve efficiency and sustainability in the forest industry in B.C. and Canada,” he said.

“We also look forward to being an integral part of the community here in Crofton and the Cowichan Valley, as well as in Port Alberni and Powell River. We will demonstrate our dedication to the safety of our employees, as well as to the protection of the environment and the communities in which we operate.”

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley said the Crofton mill is a leader in adapting to the demands of the industry, as well as reducing its emissions and water use.

“As well as the jobs provided at the mill, there are also spin-off jobs that help the economy and support the community,” Routley said. “I want to thank PEC for making this deal happen.”

Siebring said the Crofton mill has been operation for 62 years and has become a mainstay in the economic and social fabric of the region.

“We are a prosperous municipality and this mill has played a major part in that over the years,” he said.

“The mill’s involvement in the community has been unparalleled.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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