Fraser to change name to Twin Rivers Paper Co.

Posted March 10, 2010, at 7:38 p.m.

The new Fraser Papers company to be born under the umbrella of bankruptcy protection will be called the Twin Rivers Paper Co., and Fraser executives hope to midwife that birth after a Canadian bankruptcy court appearance next month.

“We have resolved the outstanding issues needed to proceed with our restructuring transaction and are focused on the remaining work required to emerge from creditor protection,” said a letter to Fraser customers signed by the company’s top three executives dated Wednesday.

Originally and at least partially suggested by a worker at the Fraser pulp mill in Edmundston, New Brunswick, and another worker at the paper mill in Madawaska out of more than 150 suggestions, the name will not be used until the company is sold to its new owners, Fraser spokesman Bill Peterson said.

Now that all of its restructuring criteria have been met, a credit group of Fraser owner Brookfield Asset Management of Toronto, CIT-Canada and the New Brunswick provincial government is expected to proceed with a proposed $180 million bailout of Fraser. Fraser is one of Maine’s top 10 employers.

The criteria included the company’s primary Canadian and United Steelworkers unions accepting huge pension plan cuts, an American wage cut and the New Brunswick government’s freeing more than $20 million for Twin Rivers by dissolving credit letters held by the region’s public electric utility.

The Canadian union’s agreement came during a vote in Edmundston on Sunday. The union sacrifices helped save the company and as many as 2,000 jobs in the St. John Valley and New Brunswick.

The new name is a reflection of the company’s location along the St. John and Madawaska rivers, Peterson said.

Fraser also owns lumber mills in Ashland and Masardis, Maine, and Juniper and Plaster Rock, New Brunswick; a pulp mill in Thurso, Quebec; and a paper mill in Gorham, N.H. It manages paper mills in Millinocket and East Millinocket, Maine, for Brookfield.

Several potential suitors are vying to buy Fraser’s Ashland, Masardis, Thurso and Gorham mills, Peterson said. The Ashland, Juniper and Thurso mills are closed, but some could reopen if the housing market rebounds, executives have said.

As the court appearance during the week of April 5 draws near, Fraser management workers are busy with a mammoth, though somewhat tedious, job, Peterson said: writing the new company’s name on all licenses, permits, legal documents and other important materials.

He called the work “an interesting quagmire.”

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