Whakatāne Mill to continue as Smurfit acquires
Irish packaging tycoon Dermot Smurfit has led an investor consortium that will acquire the seemingly doomed Whakatāne Mill, keeping it operating and saving 210 jobs.
Smurfit has teamed up with Ross George, a Kiwi private equity manager, with the two of them both taking a 33 per cent stake in Power Paperboard, the new owner of the mill.
Smurfit has vast experience as an owner and operator of packaging and paper products mills throughout Europe.
The new owners will pivot the mill away from liquid packaging board, concentrating instead on high-quality folding box board, carrier board and food service board, which are all already manufactured at the mill.
Previous owner SIG Combibloc told staff in March that the mill was closing and they would lose their jobs. As well as the staff, all senior management will remain under the new owners.
The mill has been producing paper and packaging products for the last 80 years, and is the biggest private employer in Whakatāne.