Wisconsin Manufacturing News

Wausau Paper to consolidate administration in specialty, printing and writing lines; A.O. Smith to acquire stake in Hong Kong company; Koss receives delisting warning from Nasdaq

Wausau Paper to consolidate administration in specialty, printing and writing lines

Mosinee-based Wausau Paper plans to consolidate its Specialty Products and Printing & Writing businesses into a single strategic operating unit by Jan. 1, 2010.

The consolidation is expected to reduce administrative overhead, broaden market access for the business unit’s range of products, and improve manufacturing flexibility across its production facilities located in Rhinelander, Brokaw and Mosinee, Wisconsin, and Brainerd, Minnesota.

“Over the last two years, both the Specialty Products and Printing & Writing businesses have gone through restructuring,” said Perry Grueber, director of investor relations with Wausau Paper. “We’ve closed high cost mills in both operations. We feel that by consolidating them under a single unit, we’re taking advantage of the capabilities of our four mills in that combined business.”

The consolidated business unit – Wausau Paper Mills, LLC – will be led by Henry Newell as its senior vice president. In addition to his current duties as senior vice president, Specialty Products, Mr. Newell will assume immediate leadership of the company’s Printing & Writing business and oversee consolidation of the two units.

Few jobs will be lost as a result of the consolidation, Grueber said.

“There will be very limited redundancies,” he said. “If are some, they will be in administrative roles. We’ve already gone through the restructuring. This move is to grow these businesses, and we just feel that we will be able to do so more efficiently under a single administration structure.”

A.O. Smith to acquire stake in Hong Kong company

A. O. Smith Corp. has signed an agreement to purchase a majority interest in the water treatment business of Tianlong Holding Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong.

A newly formed company, A.O. Smith (Shanghai) Water Treatment Products Co. Ltd., will hold the assets of the business and supply reverse osmosis (RO) water filtration products to the China residential and commercial markets as well as export markets throughout the world.

The new company will be a wholly owned foreign enterprise under Chinese law. A.O. Smith will pay approximately $77 million for an 80-percent share of the new company. The investment will be funded out of A.O. Smith’s existing cash flow and credit facilities, and the company is expected to earn in excess of its cost of capital in the first full year under A.O. Smith’s ownership.

Within three years, the company expects to have a business that will generate more than $100 million in sales with double-digit operating profit. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2009 subject to meeting customary closing conditions.

"We are excited about investing in the leading residential and commercial water purification company in China," said Paul Jones, chairman and chief executive officer of A.O. Smith Corp. "Entering the water treatment industry has been an important strategic initiative for A.O. Smith, and, in Tianlong, we have an experienced and well regarded partner who understands the market. One of the biggest issues facing much of the world is securing clean drinking water, and Tianlong has experienced significant growth over the last several years meeting this demand. We expect customer demand will continue to grow in the future. We also believe water treatment and filtration complement our existing water heating business, particularly in Asia."

Koss receives delisting warning from Nasdaq

Koss Corp. has received notice from the Nasdaq Stock Market that the company no longer meets the minimum 750,000 publicly held shares requirement in the stock exchange’s rules.

Based on the company’s definitive proxy statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Sept. 4, Nasdaq’s staff calculated the number of the company’s publicly held shares as 688,896. For purposes of the listing requirement, publicly held shares means total shares outstanding less any shares held by officers, directors, or beneficial owners of 10 percent or more.

Under Nasdaq’s listing rules, Koss has 15 calendar days to submit a plan to Nasdaq to regain compliance. If the compliance plan is accepted, Nasdaq can grant an extension of up to 105 calendar days for Koss to evidence compliance. If the compliance plan is not accepted, Koss will have the opportunity to appeal that decision to Nasdaq’s Listing Qualifications panel.

The Milwaukee-based headphone manufacturer is currently considering actions that will allow it to regain compliance with the Nasdaq continued listing standards and maintain its Nasdaq listing.

If Koss is unsuccessful in maintaining its Nasdaq listing, then the company may pursue listing and trading of Koss’s common stock on the Over-The-Counter Bulletin Board or another securities exchange.


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