Paper industry financials, biofuel and expansion in China

After a scientific break at the Finnish Working Life Research Days, I can catch up with some news in the paper industry. At the conference, I also had the chance to chat a lot with the researcher of the Finnish Paper Workers’ Union, which was quite interesting and useful.
First, some companies ‘nearby’, i.e. in Sweden and Norway, seem to have a bit of financial trouble. In the case of VIDA Paper AB, I don’t know what is behind the termination of credit and loans, but the press release says that the company will continue its business as usual as long as the ‘reconstruction’ is in progress. The downgrade for Norske Skog is a bit more serious:

‘Moody’s believes that the company’s debt burden will remain substantial compared to its inability to generate meaningful profits.’

It also lists some positive achievements but the press release looks like Norske Skog has to achieve quite a bit of positive news for it to receive a credit upgrade (‘a trend of improving operating profitability and cash generation ability […] evidence of a sustainable liquidity position.’) Probably this is a case to follow up upon, because this company is a relevant competitor although it is the smallest of the main forest industry companies in Europe.

This news by Metsä Board made me quite happy:

The biopower plant owned by Pohjolan Voima and Leppäkosken Sähkö was inaugurated at the Kyro mill.

Otherwise, the press release acknowledges the difficult market situation, successful investments to expand board production etc. The company is apparently in a quite good position at the moment, as far as I understand from this news – even though there are a lot of uncertaincies.
Then, when I started reading the headline of this news, I was positively surprised, until I got to the end of the headline. UPM Raflatac expands technology and R&D…in China. While this is probably good for the whole Raflatac and UPM, it is again a reminder of where the growth markets of the paper industry lies.  UPM Raflatac seems to be doing well, regarding recent acquisitions and expansions.


Also Ahlstrom has a new plant in China (in specialized paper), which probably means a great deal. Per the press release:

The plant is a joint venture together with Longkou Yulong Paper Co. Ltd, and it produces medical papers used for sterilization wraps and masking tape base papers for the building industry in the Asian market.


I don’t know much about that specific market but it seems a rather sensible investment.

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