Originally created 07/14/01

International Paper announces layoffs



The layoffs announced this week by International Paper Co. will have no immediate impact at the company's enormous Augusta mill.

The world's largest paper maker announced Thursday it would cut production indefinitely at two paper mills, one in Savannah and one in Corinth, N.Y., resulting in 655 layoffs.

The job reductions are in addition to the layoff of 3,000 salaried employees last month. IP attributes the moves to weakened demand for its products and a strong dollar.

The two affected mills produce container board and coated paper. Demand for the company's bleached paper board produced in Augusta, which employs more than 1,200 people, is still relatively strong.

However, the company said it will continue streamlining operations.

"Throughout International Paper, we've been looking at reorganization as a result of mergers in previous years," said Sherry Lorenz, company spokeswoman in Augusta. "(But) those layoffs in Savannah will not influence our operations here."

Of the 655 layoffs, 140 stem from a reorganization at the company's forest resources business in Savannah. Employees affected will be provided job counseling and other services, the company said.

"These are difficult decisions impacting mills with a significant history for our company. However, the strong dollar has continuously weakened our export business in containerboard, while increasing imports of coated paper," said John Dillon, chairman and chief executive officer.

IP, the world's largest paper and forest products company, said it will meet with union leaders at the affected operations to discuss the effects of the shutdowns on unionized employees.

The company will take a second-quarter charge on earnings, which will be reported July 17.

IP's stock was trading late Thursday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange at $38.65, up 65 cents, or 1.71 percent.