UPDATE 2-Wausau Paper to close Wisconsin mill, cut 450 jobs

Wed Dec 7, 2011 6:12pm EST

* Sees $49 mln, or $1/shr, charge in Q4

* To take total charge of $95 mln

* To exit paper and color business

Dec 7 (Reuters) - Wausau Paper said it will close its Brokaw paper mill in Wisconsin, cut 450 jobs and exit its print and color business, making it the latest paper company to shut down plants.

Rising costs of key raw materials, such as recycled fibre and energy, and lower demand from China have hit paper companies.

"Our decision to exit print & color was ultimately driven by dramatic and irreversible market demand decline," Chief Executive Thomas Howatt said in a statement.

In October, Verso Paper Corp said it will cut 300 jobs and shut down three paper machines permanently to reduce its annual production capacity by 11 percent.

Last year, Canadian paper maker Catalyst Paper Corp permanently shut the 58-year-old Elk Falls paper mill and paper recycling operation in Coquitlam.

Mosinee, Wisconsin-based Wausau, which will cut both contractual and permanent jobs, expects after-tax closure-related costs and impairment charges of about $49 million, or $1.00 per share, in the fourth quarter.

The company expects to incur total charges of about $95 million, it said in a filing.

The company, which produces and markets specialty papers for industrial, commercial and consumer end markets, said the Brokaw mill will be permanently closed by March end.

Wausau will exit the print and color business by selling the brands it owned to Neenah Paper Inc. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Wausau Paper shares, which have shed about 9 percent of their value this year, closed at $8.12 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.