Once, twice, fair warning… final call for potential buyers of Lincoln tissue plant

Posted on 6 Apr 2016 by Tim Brown

A four-day public auction of the former Lincoln Paper & Tissue Company as well as the Expera Old Town Mill, will take place from April 19-22 at the Hilton Garden Inn, in Bangor, Maine.

Prospective buyers from around the world will be bidding online and in person at the live auction. “We have approximately 4,000 lots tagged and cataloged, and that means we will be running 1,000 lots per day,” said Rich Reese, auctioneer and president of Rabin Worldwide, one of the joint venture partners in the purchase of both mills.

The Lincoln mill, formerly known as Eastern Pulp & Paper Corporation filed for bankruptcy in 2015. The firm once provided tissue products to customers throughout the Western Hemisphere, including napkins, towels, table covers, party goods, medical draping, disposable gowns, beauticians’ neck strips and tissue for industrial applications. The mill’s support of tissue manufacturing makes it an attractive target for outright acquisition as the market for these products is stable. The joint venture group was previously in close talks with a strong prospective buyer based in India; however, the sale ultimately fell through.

Headed by the Gordon Brothers Group of Boston, the joint venture team took possession of the Lincoln mill nearly six months ago, and have been negotiating with several groups interested in restarting the mill since. To date, the strongest candidate was a Northeastern paper manufacturer who had been in India at the time of the November 15 bid off, which was attended by two paper manufacturers and three liquidation companies. The Gordon Brothers joint venture group consisting of Rabin Worldwide, Capital Recovery Group, LLC and PPL Group, LLC purchased the Lincoln Mill for $5.9m.

The Old Town Mill, formerly owned by Expera, was acquired by the same joint venture group in early 2016. Unlike the Lincoln mill, the Old Town facility is a less attractive candidate for reopening. Prior to being acquired in 2014 by Expera Specialty Solutions the Old Town plant produced both paper pulp and paper tissue, however, the tissue plant had been removed when Expera took possession. While Expera invested significantly in equipment upgrades, the company could not withstand the decline of market pulp prices, and an unforgiving wood cost which was necessary to power the $30m bio mass boiler plant installed in 2005.

One chance of starting up the Old Town mill could hinge on the relocation of the two Lincoln tissue-making lines to its now-vacant tissue manufacturing building. “As profit margins on tissue products are far greater than ordinary paper products, this would make the Old Town operation a viable pulp and tissue making plant,” stated a superintendent of the Old Town facility. “The many uses of tissue can’t be replicated by the Internet,” he added.

The Old Town (Expera) Auction will be conducted April 20-22, concurrently with the Lincoln Auction, at the Hilton Garden Inn, 250 Haskell Rd., in Bangor, Maine. Inspections are on Friday April 15, Saturday April 16, and Monday April 18, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.or by appointment.  For more information, visit http://www.rabin.com.