A Crow Wing County District Court decision determining whether a non-compete clause is legal in the sale agreement between Potlatch and Sappi Limited is still pending.
Tom Brotski, Potlatch transition manager, said the company was unable to comment on the issue because it was still before the state court. A ruling is expected soon from Judge Wayne R. Farnberg.
Mike Hatch, Minnesota attorney general, filed the civil suit against Sappi and Potlatch, stating the non-compete clause, which prevents a buyer for the Brainerd mill from making coated paper, was illegal and was inhibiting the Brainerd mill's sale.
Missota Paper Co., which signed a memorandum of understanding to pursue a definitive purchase agreement for the Brainerd mill, plans to make uncoated paper.
Dan Alexander, Missota Paper Co. president, chief executive officer and primary spokesman, said owners say they will abide by any court decision and it will not affect the business plan.
Alexander said if the mill can make anything they want it will give them more flexibility. But Alexander said a main point is that the coater is removed from the mill. And Alexander said Missota Paper Co. has developed a good business plan with uncoated freesheet paper they think is best suited for the mill.
Alexander said the mill set-up was not suited for that production before, but Missota Paper Co. has good contacts in the book industry and modifications can be made. The result could be manufacturing the thick paper used in hard-cover books, which require a uniformity of thickness and quality.
"That's a market the mill did not look up before," Alexander said.
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