Rumors about IP closure remain just rumors

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 20, 2005

International Paper Company announced in July that it was implementing a three-part transformation plan that could mean the sale of or spin-off of their Wood Product Plant in Chapman.

An International Paper spokesman, Rick Ouellette, said in July that did not mean the plant was closing. Now, over a month later, that has not changed.

While the uninformed continue to spread rumors about the plant closing, company officials at IP's home office in Stamford, Conn., maintain that they are just that, rumors.

"That's a rumor," Amy Sawyer, spokeswoman for IP.

She also said that due to federal disclosure laws, if closure were planned the employees would be notified immediately.

"Whatever decisions are made about the plant, one of our first steps, if not the first step would be to inform our employees."

She went on to say that the announcement from July still stood.

"What we announced in July still holds true," Sawyer said Friday afternoon.

That announcement in July was simply, IP is not closing the Chapman plant.

"We want to emphasize that we are not going to close the Chapman plant if we don't sell it," Ouellette said in July.

"We hope to either spin off the facility or sell it, but it will remain open."

The Wood Products business – which includes the plant in Chapman – produces lumber, plywood, utility poles and engineered wood products used for residential and commercial construction throughout North America. The 2004 sales from the business were approximately $1.5 billion. The business employs more than 5,500 employees at manufacturing sites in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

The plan will include narrowing the company's portfolio to two key platform businesses, improving shareowner returns through mill realignments in those businesses and additional cost improvements, and exploring options to sell or spin off other businesses.