There's new hope for Wausau Paper.
A New York firm, KPS Capital Partners, has announced it plans to combine Wausau Paper's Mosinee and Rhinelander mills into a much bigger company.
"This is a positive step," United Steel Workers spokesperson, Lynne Hancock said. "This is a new lease on these mills."
KPS bought the Rhinelander and Mosinee mills last month. They employ about 1,000 people. Now, the company says it's picked up Thilmany Papers which has mills in Kaukana and De Pere.
The United Steel Workers union, based in Pittsburgh, represents about 1,000 paper mill workers in Wisconsin. Hancock says these potential sales are good news.
"This merger shows that the industry that some many people wrote off as dying is going to be around for a long time," Hancock said.
Right now none of these sales are final. But when they are, KPS officials say a new company will be formed merging Thilmany and Wausau Paper. That will make it the largest specialty paper mill in North America.
Wausau Paper officials wouldn't talk on camera. But they did release a short statement saying, "this is definitely a positive step as it relates to our efforts to sell Wausau Paper's Wisconsin based specialty paper business and mills in Mosinee and Rhinelander to KPS."
No one from KPS could be reached. In a news release, company leaders say the deal still requires federal approval and probably won't be final until at least the summer. Until then both companies will continue to operate independently.
Company leaders also say a new collective bargaining agreement between the new company and the United Steel Workers Union must be reached as well.