SpaceKraft Lifts Off


Weyerhaeuser Co. on Monday announced the sale of its containerboard packaging and recycling business to International Paper for $6 billion in cash. Bruce Amundson, spokesman for Weyerhaeuser, told Lube Report the sale includes the SpaceKraft and Tri-Wall divisions, which each provide packaging for industrial lubricants.

Federal Way, Wash.-based Weyerhaeuser said it expects to use a substantial portion of the after-tax proceeds to pay down debt. The transaction, subject to closing conditions, is expected to close in the second half of this year. Memphis, Tenn.-based International Paper has committed financing for the entire purchase price. Both companies will continue to operate separately until the transaction closes.

The transaction includes nine containerboard mills, 72 packaging locations, 10 specialty-packaging plants, four kraft bag and sack locations and 19 recycling facilities. The transaction affects about 14,300 employees.

Amundson said he would not speculate about International Papers plans for the SpaceKraft and Tri-Wall divisions. International Paper spokespersons did not return calls from Lube Report asking about future plans for the two divisions.

Weyerhaeuser has low-cost, well-run assets that complement our existing mill and converting system and offer significant synergies, said Carol Roberts, senior vice president of International Papers packaging business. The acquisition expands our geographic presence in the U.S. and Mexico and diversifies our customer base in key product lines.

SpaceKraft bills itself as the worlds leading supplier for liquid semi-bulk packaging and specialty solids, offering extensive lines of intermediate bulk containers used by shippers worldwide along with corrugated pallets and bulk boxes used for industrial lubricants storage.

The SpaceKraft concept was first presented to MacMillan Bloedel Research as an idea to make intermediate bulk containers stronger and easier to set up than conventional corrugated, laminated IBCs. MacMillan Bloedel then conducted a feasibility study, leading to full project research from 1980 to 1985.

In 1988, MacMillan Bloedel formed SpaceKraft in Marietta, Ga., after having spent three years in England trying to break into the European market. In 1990, the company introduced the SpaceKraft system to meet demand by food and chemical processors seeking a more environmentally friendly means of shipping nonhazardous liquids.

In 1992, construction began on the Indianapolis, Ind., plant and by years end, customers began using containers for domestic and export shipments of a wide variety of liquid products. In 1999, Weyerhaeuser acquired SpaceKraft, which later opened a Salem, Ore., plant in 2000. To complete the line, SpaceKraft introduced steel cage capability in early 2001.

Founded in Butler, Ind., in 1955, Tri-Wall was purchased in 1984 by Weyerhaeuser. The Butler plant expanded in 1992 and again in 1994 to meet growing demands of shipping worldwide. An Exeter, Calif. plant for the Tri-Wall division opened in 2001 and underwent a series of expansions including a corrugator installation in 2007.

The Exeter and Butler plants are both dedicated to triple wall, heavy duty double wall and laminated bulk corrugated packaging.

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