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Impact of corporate move on Riceboro mill unclear

POSTED: July 3, 2017 10:23 a.m.
LCDA photo/

Interstate Paper’s mill is southeast of Riceboro near the North Newport River.

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Officials are not yet saying whether the acquisition of a controlling interest in the company that owns Interstate Paper will change operations at its Riceboro plant.

A release from Interstate’s owner, Indevco Group, implied the action was a merger.

"Indevco Group, Interstate Resources Inc. and DS Smith PLC Wednesday announced the intent to form a strategic relationship," the release said.

Interstate’s Riceboro human resources manager Durand Standard, who sent the release, declined to answer questions about the action.

In a video on its website, DS Smith Group Chief Executive Miles Roberts called the action an acquisition. Supporting documents on the site, www.dssmith.com, said the company is paying $920 million for an 80 percent interest in Indevco Management Resources Inc.

Besides Interstate, IMRI holds the equity in Phoenix Technology USA and St. George Timberlands, as well as companies worldwide. The Lebanon based company is owned by the Frem family, who will keep a 20 percent interest in its holdings, according to the news release.

Both the release and Roberts said the action is subject to customary closing conditions. They say the acquitision is being made to spur growth of DS Smith and to broaden its market.

The Riceboro mill manufactures liner board for packaging. The Liberty County Development Authority’s website estimates the mill employs 200 people. An affiliated operation, Newport Timber LLC, which has also been owned by Indevco, employs 90, according to the LCDA site. Interstate is Liberty County’s third largest manufacturing employer.

DS Smith is a provider of corrugated packaging in Europe and of specialized plastic packaging globally, including a leading flexible packaging business headquartered near Chicago.

The company is headquartered in London, UK, operates across 37 countries and employs 26,000 people. Its product portfolio includes consumer, display, promotional, customized protective, industrial and transit packaging. DS Smith was founded in 1940 and has a record of growth and investment, such as SCA Packaging, the OTOR Group, Duropack and Lantero.

DS Smith is publicly listed and traded on the London Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of more than $5 billion.

In a statement on the release Indevco CEO Neemat G. Frem said, "Interstate has been part of the Indevco family since 1982. We feel that the best way to live up to the legacy of our group and to maintain a path of solid growth is to embark on this landmark transaction.

"A strategic combination with DS Smith provides a great opportunity for Interstate, its customers, suppliers and importantly our dedicated team. We have maintained a level of ownership to allow us to share in the future success of the company.

"Partnering with an organization that has a proven record of growth and success gives us great faith and optimism about the future. We continue to share a very special bond with the Interstate team that has been forged since our first days in the United States.

"This bond is cherished by the Frem family. It represents a lasting legacy of our founder, Georges N. Frem, and the faithful diligence of our Interstate team.

"In my exploration with the leadership of DS Smith, their theme was particularly moving — ‘Stronger Together’."

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