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MeadWestvaco Completes Sale of Papers Assets for $2.3 Billion

Press release from the issuing company

STAMFORD, Conn., May 2 -- MeadWestvaco Corporation today announced that it has completed the sale of its Papers business and associated assets for $2.3 billion to NewPage Corporation, a new company controlled by Cerberus Capital Management L.P., a private, New York-based investment firm. "The completion of this transaction is a major milestone for MeadWestvaco. We are now well positioned to execute upon our strategy of becoming the leading global packaging company," said John A. Luke, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of MeadWestvaco. At closing, MeadWestvaco received cash proceeds of approximately $2.2 billion and a promissory note of $100 million. The company expects to use approximately $900 million to $1.1 billion of the proceeds to pay down debt, and between $500 million and $700 million to return value to shareholders through stock repurchases. At the completion of its capital restructuring, the company expects its debt to capital ratio will be 40 percent or lower. The remaining cash will be available for either strategic growth opportunities or further debt repayment and stock repurchases. MeadWestvaco, with approximately 23,000 employees, now has more than $6 billion in annual revenues, with about three-quarters coming from the packaging business and about one-third from international sources. The company plans to focus on expanding its higher margin packaging business globally by leveraging its strong positions in North America and Europe to further penetrate growth markets in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Additionally, MeadWestvaco will continue to benefit from strong market positions in its Consumer and Office Products, Specialty Chemicals and Specialty Papers businesses. Under the terms of the transaction, NewPage acquires MeadWestvaco's writing and printing papers business, which consists primarily of mills located in Chillicothe, Ohio; Escanaba, Michigan; Luke, Maryland; Rumford, Maine; and Wickliffe, Kentucky. These mills have a combined annual capacity of approximately 2.05 million tons of coated paper, 290,000 tons of carbonless paper and 110,000 tons of uncoated paper. The sale also includes approximately 900,000 acres of forestlands in Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee, which provide wood to these mills. MeadWestvaco continues to own approximately 1.2 million acres of forestland. Goldman, Sachs & Co. and UBS Investment Bank acted as financial advisors to MeadWestvaco. Greenhill & Co. LLC provided the board of directors of MeadWestvaco with a fairness opinion. MeadWestvaco was represented by the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.