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July 20, 2017

120 jobs lost as Verso shuts down No. 3 machine at Jay mill

Verso Corp. announced Wednesday that it is permanently shutting down the No. 3 paper machine and associated equipment at its Androscoggin Mill in Jay, resulting in the loss of 120 jobs for workers there.

Verso Corp. (NYSE: VRS) is permanently shutting down the No. 3 paper machine and associated equipment at its Androscoggin Mill in Jay, resulting in the loss of 120 jobs for workers laid off when the paper machine was idled in January.

The shutdown will take effect Aug. 1 and is expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter of 2017, the company stated in a news release on Wednesday.

The No. 3 paper machine and a recovery boiler and digester that support it were idled in January in response to declining customer demand that resulted in more coated paper capacity than could be filled. Most products made on the No. 3 paper machine were transitioned to lower-cost machines in other Verso mills.

Shutting down the No. 3 paper machine will reduce annual coated paper production at the Jay mill by approximately 200,000 tons.

The permanent shutdown of the No. 3 paper machine and associated equipment will impact approximately 120 employees at the Androscoggin Mill, the company stated, adding that workers losing their jobs will receive severance in accordance with Verso's severance policy and Maine state law.

Verso stated that its human resources team has begun scheduling individual meetings with these employees to provide support and detailed information on severance and related issues.

"Verso is leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to move the company toward sustained profitability in a market where customer demand for our graphic paper products continues to decline," Verso CEO B. Christopher DiSantis said in a statement. "Consistently matching the supply of our graphic paper products with customer demand for them, dramatically reducing our costs and rapidly diversifying our product portfolio into growing markets are essential keys to Verso's future success, and we're relentlessly pursuing all three across the company. Although the footprint of the Androscoggin Mill is getting smaller, we continue to take steps to position the facility as a leading producer for the growing specialty papers market."

DiSantis added: "While permanently closing this capacity is the right strategic decision for Verso as a whole, we are mindful of the effects this action will have on the people at the Androscoggin Mill who are directly affected, and we are committed to treating them with fairness, dignity and respect during this difficult time."

At the end of 2016, Verso operated 14 paper machines at seven mills located in Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, which had a combined annual production capacity of approximately 3.15 million tons of paper, according to the company's 2016 annual report.

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