Two top Wausau Paper leaders stepping aside - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Two top Wausau Paper leaders stepping aside

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MOSINEE (WAOW) – Two top leaders of Wausau Paper, including one who has been with the company for more than 30 years, are resigning or retiring, the company said Wednesday.

President and Chief Executive Officer Henry “Hank” Newell has stepped down effective immediately and Board of Directors Chairman Thomas Howatt will retire from the board in advance of the company's annual shareholders meeting, the company said in a statement.

Michael Burandt, a paper industry veteran and a Wausau Paper board member for two years, was appointed interim chief executive officer until a permanent replacement is named.

The moves continue a trend of changes for Wausau Paper, founded in 1899, that have included closing mills in Brokaw and Brainerd, Minn., and selling its mills in Rhinelander and Mosinee to a New York private equity firm.

The moves were designed to allow the company to focus solely on making tissue and towel products.

The company also recently celebrated a $220 million expansion at its Harrodsburg, Ky., plant. It's other mill is in Ohio.

Behind the scenes, Wausau Paper and one of its major stakeholders, Starboard Value LP, a New York hedge fund, have feuded over the future of the company. Starboard has pushed for restructuring since 2011, including relocating the corporate offices from Mosinee.

In a statement Wednesday, Burandt praised Newell for “transforming” Wausau Paper into a “pure-play tissue company that is well-positioned to deliver value over the long term.”

Newell joined the company in 2007.

Howatt worked for Wausau Paper for more than 30 years, including as chief executive officer, before becoming chairman of the board.

Tom has led this company admirably,” Burandt said.

The company statement included no comments from Newell or Howatt.

Burandt, 68, is a paper industry veteran who joined the Wausau Paper board in 2012. From 1988 until 2007, he held various positions at Georgia Pacific Corp. He is currently president of Cantina Holdings LLC.

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