Sale of UPM's Chapelle Darblay mill delayed again

UPM, Samfi and Paprec have to wait a few
more months to conclude their deal
19 Jul 2021 − 

The former newsprint mill Chapelle Darblay is to become a hydrogen plant, if UPM gets its way. However, the trade union is not happy with this decision and has found a way to delay the sale for a few more months.

The sale of UPM's Chapelle Darblay mill in Grand-Couronne, France, is still not finalised. UPM confirms that it has agreed with the two companies Samfi and Paprec on a sale. However, the trade union had exercised its right to consult an external expert to review the transaction, it said. As a result, UPM expects the closing of the transaction to drag on until September. The Filpac CGT union also said that the decision will be delayed until mid-September and hopes for another solution.

UPM recently announced its intention to sell the former newsprint mill, which has been standing still for more than a year, to investment company Samfi Investissement and waste management group Paprec. The two companies plan to produce hydrogen and recycle paper and plastics at the site in the future. The union doubts the feasibility of the hydrogen project and favours a takeover by recycling group Veolia, pulp producer Fibre Excellence and ink merchant Têtu. This would allow for more former employees to be rehired. The mill used to have about 230 employees. According to Filpac CGT, the currently planned project would create only around 70 jobs, while the project by the three companies would allow for 250 employees to be hired in a first stage. This number could rise to 350 after the installation of another machine, the trade union says.

Alternative project envisages packaging paper production

Filpac CGT reports that Samfi and Paprec plant to install a hydrogen plant as well as a facility for the recycling of recovered paper and waste plastics. Veolia, Fibre Excellence and Têtu, on the other hand, want to produce packaging papers and insulation paper made from recovered paper.

The Chapelle Darblay mill, which used to produce up to 240,000 tpy of newsprint, was officially closed at the end of June 2020. At the time, UPM agreed to wait another year before dismantling and to try and sell the site. That deadline has now ended at the end of June 2021. According to UPM, the offer from Samfi and Paprec was the only binding offer at that time. The trade union pointed to the project mentioned above to continue paper production. The players had asked for an extension of the deadline to prepare an offer, but UPM had refused, it added.

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