APPLETON - You may soon be able to own part of a Fox Valley paper company.
A Dallas-based investment firm is buying part ownership of Appleton Papers, and will take it public this summer.
Appleton Papers was founded in 1907.
The coated paper products company has been 100% employee-owned since 2001.
But now that's changing.
As part of a $675 million deal, Hicks Acquisition Company II plans to acquire approximately 63 percent of equity interest in Appleton Papers in July.
"We believe Appleton has all of the characteristics that are essential for a company to succeed in the public markets today," said Hicks Acquisition Company II founder and chair Tom Hicks.
Appleton Papers corporate communications manager Bill Van Den Brandt says the transaction positions the company for long-term growth and profitability.
"It helps with the infusion of cash, we get money to pay help pay down debt, it strengthens our balance sheet and our financial structure. It also gives us access to public equity markets, gives us money for growth," said Van Den Brandt.
Appleton Papers officials said going public won't have any impact on the 1,800 jobs at the company's plants in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
"There will be no impact on operations or jobs. Our current management team will remain in place and the products and services that we offer to our customers will remain the same," Van Den Brandt said.
"It's great to see a local paper company, you know being public," said Robert W. Baird financial advisor Ken Petter.
But Petter said going public can also be difficult for some companies.
"The challenge of being publicly owned is the scrutiny that you're going to have on a quarter by quarter basis," Petter said.
With employee investors and debt in the form of publicly traded bonds, Van Den Brandt says Appleton Papers has done public reporting for years, and is used to the scrutiny of public markets.
"This will be maybe a little different, a little higher profile, but it's something that we welcome the challenge, we think that it will be something that will help us and help us grow," said Van Den Brandt.
When the transaction closes, Appleton will change its corporate name to Appvion.
The new name combines the words "applied" and "innovation."
The new company will be traded on the NASDAQ exchange.
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