Sappi Shutters Michigan Paper Mill

BOSTON (AP) -- Sappi Fine Paper North America said Wednesday it will permanently close a Muskegon, Mich., paper mill that has been idle since March in a move that will result in 190 job losses.

The unit of South Africa-based Sappi Ltd. said it expects to take a $30 million charge against fourth-quarter earnings for the coated fine paper mill, which has an annual production capacity of 170,000 metric tons.

"The global economic downturn has resulted in very weak demand for coated fine paper worldwide," Sappi CEO Ralph Boettger said.

"In North America, industry conditions remain very challenging, with current year to date shipments of coated wood free paper down 32 percent from 2007 levels and only modest recovery forecast for 2010."

Products previously made at Muskegon have been and will continue to be produced at Sappi mills in Skowhegan, Maine, and Cloquet, Minn.

The company is seeking a buyer for its Muskegon property.

Sappi, which makes paper for magazines, books and high-end advertising, employs nearly 17,000 people around the world.

American Depositary Shares of Sappi fell 17 cents, or 4.4 percent, to $3.73 in morning trading.

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