Nova Scotia

2 bidders seek to reopen NewPage mill

Two bidders want to reopen the idle NewPage Port Hawkesbury paper mill while two others want to sell the parts, a court heard Wednesday.

Two potential buyers want to reopen the idle NewPage Port Hawkesbury paper mill, while two others want to sell off the assets, a court heard Wednesday.

Ernst & Young, the court-appointed monitor overseeing the sale, updated a Halifax court Wednesday morning.

The two finalists interested in restarting the mill have conditions.

"They expected to see lower rates if they are going to operate a profitable mill. It's not just power rates. It's the cost of fibre, it's the cost of labour and it's the cost of power," said Matthew Harris, a NewPage monitor.

"At the end of the day, there has been a significant change in the paper industry in Canada."

Harris said the bidders have not spelled out exactly what they want, but that information will come out almost immediately.

"We will get into specific discussions as to what power rates are required. labour rates," he said.

The names of the four bidders have not been made public.

Ernst &Young started the process with 21 letters of interest. The list of possible buyers was whittled down to eight, with each bidder paying a $250,000 deposit.

NewPage bought the plant in Point Tupper in 2007. The company sought protection from its creditors in September, just before closing the mill.

About 1,000 people lost their jobs, though many others relied on the plant.

Meanwhile, the disposal of what's left of NewPage's assets proceeded Wednesday.

Justice David MacAdam approved the sale of 38,000 tonnes of wood harvested but not used by the mill before it closed.

The sale is expected to fetch between $800,000 and $1 million.

The proceeds will be put into a fund to pay the harvesters and truckers who have been left as unsecured creditors when the mill went down.

They'll all be back in court on Friday as creditors argue who have should have access to those funds.

So far, the monitor has identified 175 companies.