Posts Tagged ‘Fortress Specialty Cellulose Inc’

Fortress Paper Announces New Appointments

Posted: Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Fortress Paper Ltd. (TSX:FTP) (‘Fortress Paper” or the “Corporation”) announces the appointment of Andre Boucher as Chief Operating Officer of Fortress Specialty Cellulose Inc., a wholly-owned operating subsidiary which produces dissolving pulp.

Mr. Boucher has over 30 years of industry experience in the specialty cellulose sector including 24 years at Tembec Inc. where he was the General Manager of the Temiscaming dissolving pulp mill. Mr. Boucher was responsible for overall mill optimization and development of specialty products, including a full range of acetate and other specialty pulps. Most recently, Mr. Boucher was General Manager of Ethanol Operations for Suncor Energy Inc. where he developed the facility from concept to an efficient operating mill.

Chadwick Wasilenkoff, Chief Executive Officer of Fortress Paper, commented: “Andre brings a wealth of experience and technical talent to Fortress Paper at a time when we are growing our dissolving pulp business. We feel his mill optimization and unique experience in transitioning a viscose-grade dissolving pulp mill to a specialty-grade dissolving pulp mill will further enhance our already strong specialty cellulose team. Andre’s addition provides us with more flexibility as we balance our key personnel between Thurso and our other strategic projects.”

In addition, Fortress Paper is pleased to announce that Marco Veilleux has been promoted to Vice-President, Business Development and Strategic Projects of Fortress Paper from his former role as Chief Operating Officer of Fortress Specialty Cellulose Inc. Mr. Veilleux was an important member of the executive team which managed the successful staffing, startup and conversion to dissolving pulp at the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill. Mr. Veilleux will focus on special and strategic projects, manage risk and compliance matters and will assume other key corporate responsibilities within Fortress Paper.

SOURCES:  Fortress Paper Ltd., Marketwire

Fortress Paper to Release Fourth Quarter 2011 Earnings

Posted: Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Fortress Paper Ltd. (“Fortress Paper” or the “Corporation”) (TSX:FTP) announced today that it intends to release its fourth quarter financial results for the period ended December 31st, 2011 after the close of the market on Monday, March 5th, 2012. In connection with the release of its results, Fortress Paper Ltd. will host a conference call Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. (PST) to discuss the financial results and the Corporation’s operations. Mr. Chadwick Wasilenkoff, Chief Executive Officer, Alfonso Ciotola, President, Kurt Loewen, Chief Financial Officer and Peter Vinall, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fortress Specialty Cellulose Inc. will host the call.

To participate in the conference call, please dial one of the following numbers:

Dial In Numbers: 604-681-8564 Vancouver
403-532-5601 Calgary or International
780-429-5820 Edmonton
416-623-0333 Toronto
613-212-0171 Ottawa
514-687-4017 Montreal
Toll Free Dial In Number: 1-855-353-9183 from Canada and USA
Participant Pass Code: 15086#
Conference Reference Number: 765945
A replay of the conference call will be available for 7 days. To access the replay, listeners may dial 1-855-201-2300 from Canada & the USA. The conference reference number is 765945 # and the participant pass code to access the replay is 15086 #.

SOURCES:

Fortress Paper Ltd., and Marketwire

Fortress Paper to Release Third Quarter 2011 Earnings

Posted: Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Fortress Paper Ltd. (TSX:FTP) (“Fortress Paper” or the “Corporation”) announced today that it intends to release its third quarter financial results for the period ended September 30th, 2011 after the close of the market on Monday, November 7th, 2011. In connection with the release of its results, Fortress Paper will host a conference call Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. (PST) to discuss the financial results and the Corporation’s operations. Mr. Chadwick Wasilenkoff, Chief Executive Officer, Alfonso Ciotola, President, Erich Sulser, Chief Operating Officer, Kurt Loewen, Chief Financial Officer and Peter Vinall, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fortress Specialty Cellulose Inc. will host the call.

To participate in the conference call, please dial one of the following numbers:

Dial In Numbers:
604-681-0262 Vancouver
403-532-8075 Calgary or International
780-429-7423 Edmonton
647-837-0597 Toronto
613-683-0932 Ottawa
514-788-7663 Montreal
Toll Free Dial In Number: 1-877-353-9586 from Canada and USA
Participant Pass Code: 98030#
Conference Reference Number: 656044

A replay of the conference call will be available for 7 days. To access the replay, listeners may dial 1-877-353-9587 from Canada & the USA or dial 403-699-1055 from local Calgary or International. The conference reference number is 656044 # and the participant pass code to access the replay is98030 #.

About Fortress Paper

Fortress Paper is a leading international producer of security and other specialty papers and products. Fortress operates three mills, the Landqart Mill located in Switzerland, the Dresden Mill located in Germany and the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill located in Quebec, Canada. Fortress Paper’s security papers include banknote, passport and visa papers and its specialty papers include non-woven wallpaper base products, and graphic and technical papers. Fortress Paper’s pulp business includes specialty pulp produced at the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill, which is currently in the process of converting this capacity into dissolving pulp production along with the construction of a biomass based cogeneration plant.

SOURCE:  MARKETWIRE & FORTRESS PAPER


 

Fortress CEO Discusses High Tech Forestry Sector On BNN

Posted: Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Fortress Paper Ltd. CEO Chad Wasilenkoff appeared on the Business News Network this week to talk about the resurgence of the Canadian forestry sector thanks to diversification of products and forward thinking attitudes in the industry.

The forestry sector has “gone through a couple of challenging decades,” he said on Tuesday. “So we now need to change that sector and drive forth with new innovation and cutting edge technology to remain globally competitive.”

In the past, the forestry sector was mainly concerned with just wood and pulp. Changing that direction is what is allowing the forestry sector to thrive once again, said Wasilenkoff.

Echoing some of the themes found in an article recently published in the Vancouver Sun and the Windsor Star, Wasilenkoff said today’s foresty sector is now driven by high-tech initiatives, focusing on areas such as biochemistry, genetics, computer modeling, satellite imagery, and digital processing – among others.

The industry now is “more of a biorefiner,” Wasilenkoff said. “We’re taking the wood, we’re breaking it down to the molecular level and extracting as many products as we can to get as much value out of that wood as possible.”

Wasilenkoff also spoke about the Bio-Pathways project – a government sponsored initiative to further research and development in the sector – as well as his own company’s plans for the future with their dissolving pulp mill located in Thurso, Quebec.

Watch the entire video HERE

SOURCE:
BNN: “High Tech Forest Sector”
BNN: “Saving The Forestry Sector One Innovation At A Time”

Future of Canada’s Forestry Sector is Renewable

Posted: Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

by CHAD WASILENKOFF

Push aside dated notions of our global forestry sector as dominated by lumberjacks focused solely on logging trees and processing the wood. Today’s forests are increasingly high-tech with employees skilled in biochemistry, genetics, computer modeling, satellite imagery, and digital processing.

Today’s bio-economy is a dynamic global market that mirrors a paradigm shift to products that originate from natural renewable sources. Mills that have focused on processing timber and pulp are beginning to diversify into bio-energy, bio-chemicals and bio-materials which include wood fibre and biomass that is converted into renewable fuel, food additives, non-toxic chemicals, solvents, plastics, textiles, and other products.

The International Council of Forest and Paper Associations, (ICFPA), which represents the global forest and paper industry, champions the role of our global forest sector as a central, thriving player in our new bio-age. The international forest and paper industry is committed to the principles of sustainable development and ensuring that the environmental, social and economic benefits of our natural resources are available to current and future generations. Studies have shown that by repurposing the chemicals and bio-materials extracted from trees, we can tap into a potential global market estimated at around $200 billion.

The global forestry industry is a vital benefactor to our world’s sustainable development. The worldwide forestry sector supports thousands of communities as a supplier of millions of jobs across the globe. The forestry sector prides itself on its use of renewable raw material and record of sustainable forest management and application of cleaner technologies in an increasing number of mill operations. More and more mills across the world are converting their wood residues into heat and power for their own operations with most of the sector’s energy coming from waste biomass with some facilities already acting as net sources of green power. With its strong reliance on biofuels, maximum recycling rates and the storage of carbon in its wood and paper products, our global forestry sector is at the forefront of the renewable era.

The forestry sector is finding new life in innovative and creative solutions that are not only helping the once struggling industry turn around, but also helping to usher in a green movement. After two years of work by FPAC, FPInnovations, and the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) of Natural Resources Canada, a new program called the Bio-pathways Project was set into motion this year with the goal of revitalizing the Canadian forestry sector. The project looks outside of traditional uses for wood, lumber, pulp and paper in an effort to create new jobs and sectors with a more sustainable future for the country and its citizens. New, innovative products include bio-active paper – paper towels than can indicate contamination; nanocrystalline cellulose composites that can replace materials in aircraft; wood-based textiles (such as rayon); and cross-laminated timber – a technology that produces strong beams and panels for construction products.

As the CEO of a security and specialty pulp and paper company, we are in the process of transforming Quebec’s Thurso mill from a traditional pulp mill to a specialty dissolving pulp operation. Dissolving pulp, a chemically refined bleached pulp of pure cellulose fibers extracted from trees that are used to produce rayon, is a popular cotton substitute in China and other markets. With our Quebec facility, we are transforming an under-utilized asset which struggled for market-share in the low-value add commodity marketplace. The evolution to dissolving pulp from traditional pulp metamorphoses the mill into a globally competitive, low-cost producer with a sustainable and profitable long-term future.

The future of the forestry sector is here today and it offers a bold, innovative, profitable and environmentally conscious path for the industry. Our global concern to reduce greenhouse gas emissions leads us through the forest to invest in renewable energy technologies that use wood fibre. As more forestry firms invest in technologies to increase their reliance on biomass for fuel versus fossil fuels, we drive the future of the forest sector to develop new biotechnologies, new jobs and greener prospects.

As our global forestry sector expands and leads the way to produce new and innovative bioproducts, we will experience greatly enhanced employment opportunities and financial returns than from traditional stand-alone mills. By incorporating new technologies into existing mills, we can ensure that these integrated operations will utilize all parts of the trees and extract the most value possible to ensure an environmentally friendly, sustainable, and profitable future.

About the Author:
As Fortress Paper’s Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Director, Chadwick Wasilenkoff, oversees the company’s production of security and other specialty papers. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Wasilenkoff is an established entrepreneur with extensive capital markets experience specializing in the resource industry and currently serves as a director with various publicly listed companies.

SOURCE:
Vancouver Sun: “Future of Canada’s Forestry Sector is Renewable”
The Windsor Star: “A Renewable Forestry”
International Forest Industries: “Future of Canada’s Forestry Sector is Renewable”
The Post-Journal: “Future Of Global Forestry Sector Is Renewable”

Fortress Paper to Release First Quarter 2011 Earnings

Posted: Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – May 31, 2011) -

Fortress Paper Ltd. (TSX:FTP) (“Fortress Paper” or the “Corporation”) announced today that it intends to release its first quarter financial results for the period ended March 31st, 2011 after the close of the market on Tuesday, June 14th, 2011. In connection with the release of its results, Fortress Paper will host a conference call Wednesday, June 15th, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. (PST) to discuss the financial results and the Corporation’s operations. Mr. Chadwick Wasilenkoff, Chief Executive Officer, Alfonso Ciotola, President, Erich Sulser, Chief Operating Officer, Kurt Loewen, Chief Financial Officer and Peter Vinall, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fortress Specialty Cellulose Inc. will host the call.

To participate in the conference call, please dial one of the following numbers:

Dial In Numbers: 604-681-0262 Vancouver
403-532-8075 Calgary or International
780-429-7423 Edmonton
647-837-0597 Toronto
613-683-0932 Ottawa
514-788-7663 Montreal
Toll Free Dial In Number: 1-877-353-9586 from Canada and USA
Participant Pass Code: 98030#
Conference Reference Number: 545090

 

A replay of the conference call will be available for 7 days. To access the replay, listeners may dial 1-877-353-9587 from Canada & the USA or dial 403-699-1055 from local Calgary or International. The conference reference number is 545090 # and the participant pass code to access the replay is 98030 #.

About Fortress Paper Ltd.

Fortress Paper is a leading international producer of security and other specialty papers and products. Fortress Paper operates three mills, the Landqart Mill located in Switzerland, the Dresden Mill located in Germany and the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill located in Quebec, Canada. Fortress Paper‘s security papers include banknote, high security, passport and visa papers and its specialty papers include non-woven wallpaper base products. Fortress Paper‘s pulp business includes NBHK produced at the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill with plans to convert this capacity into dissolving pulp production along with the construction of a biomass based cogeneration plant.

NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO UNITED STATES NEWSWIRE SERVICES OR FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES.

 

Sources:

Marketwire

Fortress Paper Ltd.

Fortress Paper Announces Fourth Quarter 2010 Results

Posted: Monday, March 14th, 2011

Fortress Paper Ltd. (TSX:FTP) (“Fortress Paper” or the “Company”) reported 2010 fourth quarter EBITDA of $3.2 million. For the three months ended December 31, 2009 EBITDA was $7.9 million and for the third quarter of 2010 EBITDA was $8.9 million.

The fourth quarter of 2010 reflects continued strong profitability at our Dresden operations. At Landqart, the Company completed the successful transformation of paper-machine number 1 (“PM1″) to a high security paper-machine. This comprehensive project had a negative impact on fourth quarter earnings as there was no commercial production on the PM1 for two months. The results at Fortress Specialty Cellulose reflect weakening NBHK prices that have come off their peaks from earlier in the year. The conversion of the Fortress Specialty Cellulose mill to a dissolving pulp producer remains on target for production in the third quarter of 2011. The underlying markets for dissolving pulp remain strong which continues to provide management with conviction in our attempts to expand further in this business segment.

Overall 2010 was another successful year for Fortress Paper Ltd. with the following significant accomplishments:

  • The acquisition by Fortress Specialty Cellulose of the Thurso mill from Fraser Papers and its successful start-up as a NBHK pulp producer.
  • Significant advancements with the conversion project of Fortress Specialty Cellulose to a dissolving mill scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2011.
  • Substantial completion of the rebuild of PM1 at Landqart by the end of 2010.
  • Continued market share growth in the non-woven wallpaper market at the Dresden mill.

Fortress reported adjusted net loss of $0.8 million for the fourth quarter of 2010 on sales of $83.5 million or diluted loss per share of $0.06. For the fourth quarter of 2009 the Company report adjusted net income of $4.8 million or diluted adjusted earnings per share of $0.46 on sales of $51.0 million. In the third quarter of 2010 the Company reported adjusted net income of $3.9 million on sales of $87.0 million or diluted adjusted earnings per share of $0.29. The primary reason for the decline, relative to the prior quarter, is attributed to weaker NBHK pulp prices which remained below their June peak prices throughout the fourth quarter of 2010. In addition our Landqart mill underwent a significant portion of the PM1 upgrade. The acceptance and production of lower margin banknote orders in preparation for increased capacity in 2011 also contributed to the decrease in net income compared to prior periods. Effective October 31, 2010 the last order of specialty papers was produced at Landqart. By the end of December, the full conversion was substantially complete and production of saleable security paper on the transformed PM1 began in early January 2011. Both the NBHK pulp price impact at Fortress Specialty Cellulose and the conversion at Landqart overshadowed an excellent fourth quarter at Dresden.

EBITDA was $26.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2010 compared to $25.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2009. Excluding corporate costs, Dresden, Landqart and Fortress Specialty Cellulose combined mill EBITDA was $31.7 million and $29.1 million in the years ended December 31, 2010 and 2009, respectively. Despite significant EUR depreciation in the year the Dresden mill was able to contribute $21.9 million EBITDA which was in line with the previous year at $21.6 million. The Landqart mill produced significantly lower results ($0.5 million EBITDA) than the prior year ($7.5 million EBITDA) in large part due to the conversion of PM1 as previously stated. The Fortress Specialty Cellulose mill, purchased April 30, 2010, provided approximately $9.3 million of EBITDA.

Adjusted net income for the year ended December 31, 2010 was $10.4 million or $0.84 per share (diluted). Adjusted net income for the previous year comparative period was $13.8 million or $1.35 per share (diluted).

EBITDA is defined as net income before interest, income taxes, depreciation, amortization, non-operating income and expenses and stock based compensation which the Company considers to be a key performance indicator. Adjusted Net Income (Loss) is calculated as Net Income (Loss) less specific items affecting comparability with prior periods and Adjusted Net Income (Loss) per Share is calculated as Adjusted Net Income (Loss) divided by the weighted average number of shares outstanding in the period. EBITDA, Adjusted Net Income (Loss) and Adjusted Net Income (Loss) per Share are not generally accepted earnings measures and should not be considered as an alternative to net income or cash flows as determined in accordance with Canadian GAAP. As there is no standardized method of calculating these measures, the Company’s EBITDA, Adjusted Net Income (Loss) and Adjusted Net Income (Loss) per Share may not be directly comparable with similarly titled measures used by other companies.

Subsequent to December 31, 2010:

  • Fortress completed the acquisition of the assets of the Bank of Canada’s Optical Security Material (OSM) division (the “OSM Assets”), which produces the optically variable material for the security threads contained in various banknotes, including application in the Canadian banknotes. The Company paid a purchase price of $0.75 million for the OSM assets and granted the Bank of Canada a royalty-free license to use the intellectual property sold to the Company for Canadian banknote applications.
  • Fortress completed a public offering of 967,000 common shares of the Company and the underwriters exercised their over-allotment option and purchased an additional 145,050 common shares at a price of $51.75 per share, resulting in aggregate gross proceeds under the offering of $57.5 million. Proceeds of the offering will be used to finance certain capital expenditures relating to its Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill in Thurso, Quebec and the construction of a high security facility adjacent to the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill which will house the Company’s OSM Assets recently acquired from the Bank of Canada, and for working capital and general corporate purposes.
  • Fortress‘ wholly-owned subsidiary Dresden Papier GmbH (“Dresden”) increased the current credit facility amounting to EUR18.5 million to EUR 22.15 million for the rebuild of Landqart’s PM1 into a banknote paper-machine.
  • The remaining $7 million principal amount of the Company’s $15 million unsecured convertible debenture that was issued on April 30, 2010 has been converted. The Company has issued 350,000 common shares with this redemption.

Selected Financial Information

The selected financial information presented herein is qualified in its entirety by, and should be read in conjunction with, our audited consolidated financial statements as at and for the year ended December 31, 2010 and the related notes thereon and our Management’s Discussion and Analysis filed on SEDAR.

Three Months Ended December 31, 2010
(thousands of dollars, except shipments, unaudited) Q4 2010 Q3 2010 Q4 2009
Sales 83,467 86,971 51,049
EBITDA1 3,237 8,930 7,885
Operating (loss) income (10,775 ) 6,159 6,292
Net (loss) income (10,953 ) 5,148 3,720
Adjusted net (loss) income (751 ) 3,854 4,793
Paper Shipments (tonnes) 15,406 16,452 15,291
Pulp Shipments (tonnes) 62,038 60,469 -
1 See net income to EBITDA reconciliation.
Net income to EBITDA reconciliation:
(thousands of dollars, unaudited) Q4 2010 Q3 2010 Q4 2009
Net (loss) income $ (10,953 ) $ 5,148 $ 3,720
Income tax 1,305 2,243 1,199
Foreign exchange (gain) loss (1,099 ) (1,294 ) 1,073
Interest expense (29 ) 62 300
Amortization 3,029 2,192 1,441
Stock based compensation 5,983 579 152
Executive Cash Award 5,000 - -
EBITDA

The Company

Fortress Paper is a leading international producer of security and other specialty papers and products. Fortress operates three mills, the Landqart Mill located in Switzerland, the Dresden Mill located in Germany and the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill located in Quebec, Canada. Fortress Paper’s security papers include banknote, passport and visa papers and its specialty papers include non-woven wallpaper base products, and graphic and technical papers. Fortress Paper’s pulp business includes NBHK produced at the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill with plans to convert this capacity into dissolving pulp production along with the construction of a biomass based cogeneration plant.

Conference Call

A conference call to discuss the financial results for the fourth quarter 2010 will be held on March 15, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. (PST). To attend the conference call, please dial one of the following numbers:

North America: 1-877-353-9586

International: 1-403-532-8075

Participant pass code: 98030#

A replay of the conference call will be available for 7 days. To access the replay, listeners may dial 1-877-353-9587 from North America or 403-699-1055 International. The pass code to access the replay is 537274#.

Forward-Looking Statements

Some information in this news release contains forward-looking statements that reflect the current views and/or expectations of the Company with respect to its performance, business and future events. The reader is cautioned that forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking statements including, without limitation, those relating to damage to our reputation, competition, maintaining our market position, marketability and price of our products, technology and protection of our intellectual property, dependence on our major customers, fluctuations in the price and supply of raw materials, fluctuations in foreign exchange and other risk factors detailed in our filings with Canadian securities regulatory authorities. These risks, as well as others, could cause actual results and events to vary significantly. Fortress Paper Ltd. does not undertake any obligation to release publicly any revisions for updating any voluntary forward-looking statements.

Source: Marketwire

 

Fortress Paper Enters Into Dissolving Pulp Supply Agreements

Posted: Monday, October 4th, 2010

Fortress Paper Ltd. (“Fortress Paper” or the “Company”) (TSX:FTP) is pleased to announce that it has, through a wholly-owned subsidiary, entered into dissolving pulp supply agreements with two producers of viscose fibre (rayon) products located in China, for the delivery of an aggregate of approximately 84,000 air dried metric tonnes (“ADMT”) of dissolving pulp per annum at a purchase price based on prevailing market prices in China, subject to a minimum price of US$1,200 per ADMT and a maximum price of US$1,600 per ADMT. The pulp supply agreements are each for a term of five years, with Fortress commencing the supply of dissolving pulp in the third quarter of 2011.

Dissolving pulp will be supplied by the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill which is planned to have an annual production capacity of more than 200,000 ADMT upon its completion, which is expected to occur in mid-2011.

Chadwick Wasilenkoff, Chief Executive Officer of Fortress Paper, commented: “These dissolving pulp supply agreements will provide a hedge against potential volatility in future dissolving pulp prices which we believe should provide greater normalized operating results in this segment.”

About Fortress Paper

Fortress Paper is a leading international producer of security and other specialty papers and products. Fortress operates three mills, the Landqart Mill located in Switzerland, the Dresden Mill located in Germany and the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill located in Quebec, Canada. Fortress Paper’s security papers include banknote, passport and visa papers and its specialty papers include non-woven wallpaper base products, and graphic and technical papers. Fortress Paper’s pulp business includes NBHK produced at the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill with plans to convert this capacity into dissolving pulp production along with the construction of a biomass based cogeneration plant.
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements that reflect the current views and/or expectations of Fortress Paper with respect to its performance, business and future events, including statements regarding Fortress Paper’s planned conversion of the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill into a dissolving pulp production facility, the expected production capacity thereat, and expected financial results of the pulp supply agreements. Forward-looking statements are based on the then-current expectations, beliefs, assumptions, estimates and forecasts about the business and the industry and markets in which the Company operates. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions which are difficult to predict. Investors are cautioned that all forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties including, without limitation, risks relating to the ability of Fortress to complete the conversion of the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill, that the specialty cellulose operation will not be successful or profitable and will not meet anticipated production capacities, that the purchasers will not fulfill their obligations under the pulp supply agreements, changes in the market, potential downturns in economic conditions, fluctuations in the price and supply of raw materials, foreign exchange fluctuations, labour relations, regulatory requirements, reputation, competition, dependence on major customers, and other risk factors listed from time to time in the Company’s public filings. These risks, as well as others, could cause actual results and events to vary significantly. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement. Fortress Paper does not undertake any obligations to release publicly any revisions for updating any voluntary forward-looking statements, except as required by applicable securities law.

THE OTTAWA CITIZEN: “The Future Looks Fluffy”

Posted: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Driven by the imperatives of globalized economics and digital technology, Ottawa’s pulp-and-paper heritage has been reduced to a remnant.

The forestry industry that built the Ottawa-Gatineau economy appears to be on its last legs.

Hammered by the Internet’s growing grip on personal communications, the rich Canadian dollar and intense competition, the forestry industry continues to slash operations in the hopes of finding a smaller, profitable core.

The industry, which employed 5,000 people just 20 years ago, today has dwindled as Domtar-Eddy mills in Ottawa, an AbitibiBowater mill in Gatineau, a Smurfit-Stone mill at Portage, and Domtar mills in Cornwall slashed staff and finally closed. Fewer than 1,200 jobs remain, focused on a few niche markets far removed from the newsprint and lumber products that drove the industry for 150 years.

Next to go could be 200 jobs at Papier Masson, a newsprint operation in the east end of Gatineau, which was founded James Maclaren, a pulp and paper pioneer, and later owned by Noranda.

White Birch Paper of Connecticut, Papier Masson’s current owner, has hired Lazard Freres, the New York private banker that helped sell Nortel assets, to find new owners for three mills in Quebec and one in the U.S.

White Birch, operating under bankruptcy protection since February, opened the doors to prospective bidders last month.

The threat is there will be no bidders and that some mills will close in a major restructuring, adding to the thousands of lost jobs in the industry.

Certainly, the relentless march of the Internet into every corner of human communications is destroying demand for newsprint, telephone directories, copying paper, books, magazines and glossy printed advertising across the Western world.

The result is that mills that employed thousands and drove the industry for more than 80 years are being sold for less than $3 million each.

One huge AbitibiBowater mill in Thunder Bay sold for just $100,000 because of environmental cleanup issues.

The recently upgraded machinery in four former AbitibiBowater mills sold for just $5 million — not much more than scrap value.

The real value now is in the land, including about 40 acres controlled by Domtar in the heart of Hull across the Chaudière Bridge and Chaudière Island into Ottawa.

However, while the Ottawa regional industry is in deep trouble, new profitable product lines are emerging and demand for older products is rebounding, at least temporarily.

The trouble is that most of the Ottawa regional mills are too big or too old to be revived. With governments taking a hands-off approach — after spending billions bailing out GM and Chrysler — bankruptcy courts will decide the fate of underfunded pension plans, unpaid severance and struggling suppliers.

The federal government finally rolled out a $170-million investment program this week, too late for most Ottawa companies.

“The forestry industry employs more people in more places across Canada than the auto industry, but governments have turned their backs,” said Kim Ginter, a vice-president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union.

“Many mills are competitive, but need investment. We still have the best source of fibre in Canada, but, once the mills go, it will be very hard to get them back.”

For the few survivors, there could be light at the end of the tunnel.

After years of declining sales and heavy losses, sales of many forestry products companies rebounded in the last six months.

It wasn’t much, just two per cent in the case of Domtar and other companies, but it surprised analysts and had business leaders and bankruptcy monitors scratching their heads. They had expected declines of at least two per cent.

Sales of AbitibiBowater rose 2.6 per cent between April and May, though the wounded newsprint giant is mired in bankruptcy.

Even before it shut the huge Gatineau mill this spring, AbitibiBowater had slashed newsprint production by 3.4 million metric tonnes or 32 per cent since 2007. It also sold off $940 million in assets, including $615 million in a Quebec power company.

A surprised bankruptcy monitor reported last month that White Birch sales were not significantly hurt despite the stigma of defaulting on loans and pension obligations and seeking court protection from creditors.

Sales at Papier Masson were 18 per cent higher than the monitor predicted for the June quarter, and the White Birch cash burn was 70 per cent lower than forecast.

The reason is basic economics: Deep, permanent cuts to production mean that prices jump with the smallest improvement in sales. While demand for newsprint continues to fall, the deep production cuts of the 2008-2009 recession were deeper than immediately necessary.

The result is the price of pulp was more than 50 per cent higher in the June quarter from a year earlier, and Domtar is running hard in a bid to keep up.

Domtar chief executive John Williams told an industry conference: “If you look at tissue, if you look at toweling, if you look at printing and writing, in the geographies where we are selling, those markets are actually growing. So we see a long-term pretty positive trend for pulp.”

His company converted a Massachusetts mill from newsprint pulp to fluff pulp.

“We currently sell 150,000 tons of fluff pulp, (and) we’ll move up to 444,000 tons (by December 2010.)

“If you take fluff pulp, it’s largely used in diaper markets and in the incontinence marketplace. That’s a very fast-growing market both in developed economies and developing countries because of the demographic.”

Fluff pulp doesn’t have the brawny feel of the traditional products like lumber and newsprint that defined the industry and Stompin’ Tom Connors is unlikely to add a new verse about fluff pulp or air-laid superabsorbent paper to Big Joe Mufferaw, his ballad celebrating the Ottawa Valley logger and raftsman, but fluff pulp is immune to the Internet.

Glatfelter, a Pennsylvania specialty paper producer that makes tea bags and labels, bought the Concert Industries plant near the Gatineau airport in January for $246.5 million. It employs 285 people making super-absorbent paper sold to companies like Procter & Gamble and Johnson&Johnson.

It is primarily used in feminine hygiene products, a market that is growing about five per cent annually as the combination of growing prosperity and a huge young population opens new markets.

Farther east in Thurso, the moribund Fraser Pulp mill, once owned by James Maclaren, is being revived after it was closed a year ago. Fortress Paper is converting the mill to produce cellulose used in rayon, a cheaper, more environmentally-sound alternative to cotton.

“The forest products industry will continue to decline and there will be more pain,” Fortess founder Chad Wasilenkoff said.

“But there are still specialty niche production operations available at attractive prices which can yield good profits.”

While buying the Thurso pulp mill makes sense, he said that buying newsprint mills in North America did not. “This is still an industry that is profitable only about one year in 10.”

The share price of his company has quadrupled in the last year in part because of two profitable mills in Europe that produce paper for the banknote and wallpaper industry.

Better still is the Kruger Products mill on Rue Laurier next to the Museum of Civilization. For much of its 70-year history, it had a water tower with a White Swan logo that made it a landmark.

Today it is the sole survivor of the E.B. Eddy-Domtar mills, which, for 160 years, stretched from the Museum of Civilization site to the Chaudière Bridge and onto Lebreton Flats.

Three Kruger papermaking machines roar around the clock, turning out Spongetowels, Scotties and White Swan industrial towels.

Kruger employs 475 people at the mill and another plant in Hull that processes and packages the material.

It is spending $4.8 million with Quebec government assistance to capture lost steam, reduce operating expenses and reduce the carbon footprint of machines that have been running for 60 years.

With backing from governments, companies like Domtar are investing in new technology to make operations cleaner, greener and more efficient.

Domtar is investing $32 million in new technology to create nanocrystaline cellulose used in optically-reflective films, high-durability varnishes and bioplastics.

The biggest problem for the North American newsprint mills is they are situated in the wrong places.

There is growing demand in developing countries, but newsprint is heavy and expensive to ship. This spring, Canadian newsprint sales to Asia tripled, with two-thirds of the business in India, as buyers stepped aggressively into markets to rebuild inventories depleted during the recession.

No one expects this trend to continue, however. The newsprint industry is still bracing for reductions averaging four per cent annually in demand.

“The paper industry is not going to die,” says Martine Hamel of the Pulp and Paper Products Council. “It faces major challenges, which will mean it will continue to get smaller and focused on different products.

“But the decline will eventually level off and we will still have an important industry and significant employer.”

By Bert Hill for The Ottawa Citizen. September 1st, 2010.

SOURCE:
The Ottawa Citizen: “The Future Looks Fluffy”

The Ottawa Citizen: “Sniffing Out Hidden Value”

Posted: Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

For contrarian Chad Wasilenkoff, a nose for overlooked potential led him to a pulp mill in Thurso. Bert Hill reports for The Ottawa Citizen.

OTTAWA — From golf courses to art auctions and old mill towns, value can hide in unexpected places.

Just ask Chad Wasilenkoff, the 38-year-old chief executive officer of Fortress Paper Ltd.

When he was a child in Calgary he built a savings account fishing golf balls out of ponds and buying and selling video games, BMX bikes and other popular products he found in want ads.

He learned market timing. He and a friend snapped up Robert Bateman prints for a few hundred dollars each at a deserted auction in the middle of a Calgary snowstorm and sold them for more than $1,000.

That might seem a long jump from Fortress’ latest coup — a mothballed pulp plant in Thurso that, for generations, was the bane of the capital region because of its smelly rotten-egg emissions.

The mill, which stood empty for a year because of the forest industry collapse, is now back in production. The 300 employees are producing hardwood pulp, suddenly profitable because of a strong — but likely temporary — increase in demand in Asia.

Early next year, it will start producing dissolving pulp to feed the developing world’s demand for rayon used in clothing.

Though Thurso has yet to produce the new pulp, Wasilenkoff said he got “multiple overtures” during a recent business trip to China from investors who wanted to buy the whole mill or a minority stake.

He said textile industry customers are lining up to negotiate for the specialized pulp with starting offers he considers surprisingly high.

With all the production likely to be committed soon, he is looking to convert other mills. There are no other suitable mills in the Ottawa area, but “we are searching the planet for more of these opportunities,” he said.

Wasilenkoff said he plans to stay in dissolving pulp, unless an attractive offer comes along.

“We are in this for the long haul. But money talks and at the right price, everything is for sale.”

Fortress shares have quadrupled this year as investors discovered the magic of a tiny profitable player in an industry still covered with red ink. The firm just snapped up $44 million in a new stock offering.

Trading at $28 this week, the company now has a market capitalization approaching $400 million.

Wasilenkoff owns 23 per cent of the Vancouver-based company.

The rapid acceleration of the stock from below $10 in January has some analysts worrying.

TD Newcrest analyst Sean Steuart downgraded the stock to “hold” from “buy” this week, although Fortress beat his sales and profit forecasts for the June quarter.

With the price up 31 per cent in less than a month since he put on the buy recommendation, Steuart took action because of concern that the stock valuation is running ahead of underlying business.

“Management has earned our benefit of the doubt, but there are several major projects on the go right now.

“We would prefer the company deliver on current capital expenditure plans before looking at additional expansion opportunities.”

Wasilenkoff says he is a contrarian. When the investing public is chasing the latest hot stocks and investment ideas, he looks elsewhere.

It was a philosophy he learned the hard way: He read weighty analyst reports during the technology boom and lost heavily when prices collapsed.

It is a philosophy that has allowed him to benefit from buying gold, copper and other assets when prices were deeply depressed. It takes nerve and patience to stay away from the herd.

He also learned never to fall in love with an asset. If his analysis said the prices had passed sustainable levels, as it did with uranium and a stake in Cameco, he sold and the market eventually followed.

Now he has embraced the pulp and paper industry, a business loved today only by bankruptcy lawyers.

Canada is rapidly shedding a world-class industry that for 90 years supported tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in global sales.

Governments, which rushed to bail out the auto industry, are taking a hands-off attitude to the forestry industry, its unemployed workers and underfunded pension funds.

Mills across Ontario and Quebec that would cost billions to replace are selling today for a few million dollars each. An empty Thunder Bay mill recently sold for just $100,000. Production machinery is being sold for scrap or shipped abroad.

“There are a lot of smaller mills that were considered too uncompetitive to survive against the big mills,” Wasilenkoff said.

“But markets have changed. Now there is opportunity and good profit margins in the small mills with the right products and technology.”

He doesn’t see the traditional newsprint, photocopying or related pulp markets recovering soon in North America.

But mills with profitable specialty products have a future.

He tried to buy the former Concert Industries mill in Gatineau, which makes air-laid paper used in diapers and incontinence and feminine hygiene pads. Glatfelter, a small specialty Pennsylvania producer of everything from labels to tea bags, won the asset.

Fortress owns a wallpaper plant in Germany and a bank-note plant in Switzerland, where it is investing to expand production.

Wallpaper must be due for a turnaround because it has been out of fashion so long, particularly in North America.

But in eastern Europe demand continues to grow though assets are depressed.

Fortress bought a mill in Germany that makes dry-strippable paper, a profitable niche.

“We spent less than $5 million but now it is generating $3 million a month in business.”

The latest coup was the former Fraser Pulp kraft mill in Thurso, originally a key part of the old James Maclaren and Noranda empires.

It makes hardwood pulp, a market commodity that has been losing ground steadily to softwood pulp.

The mill closed in June 2009 when Fraser Pulp tumbled into bankruptcy protection, laying off hundreds of employees.

It appeared headed for the scrap heap, like other older mills in Ottawa, Gatineau, Cornwall and Portage du Fort.

Fortress bought the old mill — with buildings, land and machinery worth $45 million — for just $3 million.

It embraced a plan, promoted in the local community,

to generate electricity from biomass for sale to Hydro-Québec.

Fortress will spend $153 million converting the mill to dissolving pulp production. Investissement-Québec is providing a $102.4-million loan, to be combined with

$25 million in federal tax credits and other incentives. When it opens, it will be second-largest of its kind in the world, behind only a plant in Brazil.

Wasilenkoff got a great deal on the enormous digester tubes and other sophisticated equipment needed to make dissolving pulp. They will arrive by barge next month.

Russia shut off exports of pulp logs in a move that stranded a Stora mill in Finland.

Fortress bought the machinery for $3 million, or less than 10 per cent of replacement costs.

The company is also enjoying the luck of a sudden pick up in pulp demand and prices. Global demand has snapped back from the 2008-2009 recession. With production permanently reduced by many permanent closings, prices have jumped 50 per cent in the last year.

When Fortress hired 300 former employees and started production in late May, it caught the new market demand.

Wasilenkoff does not expect the prices to hold because the global industry is only profitable one or two years every decade.

But he believes the prices will hold up until it completes the conversion next year.

With a strong push from the Thurso products, Fortress adjusted profits jumped almost 60 per cent to $4.3 million in the June quarter and sales rose 22 per cent to $60.5 million compared to a year earlier.

SOURCE:
The Ottawa Citizen: “Sniffing Out Hidden Value”