MADISON — It was about 11:30 p.m. on Monday in Finland when Madison Paper Industries got a new owner.

With the late-night transfer of all assets belonging to Madison Paper’s parent company to Finnish paper business giant UPM-Kymmene Corp. complete, the new owner must now decide what to do with individual mills, Jyrki Ovaska, president of UPM’s paper business group, said in a phone call from Finland on Tuesday.

Ovaska declined to provide specific details about what will happen to Madison Paper — owned by Finnish company Myllykoski Corp. for 32 years — but emphasized the sale will reinforce UPM’s presence in North America. UPM owns another mill in Minnesota.

The purchase will complement the operations “extremely well,” Ovaska said, adding that there will likely be an announcement about restructuring in the next several weeks. He declined to comment further on the Madison mill or others.

After the approximately $1.3 billion takeover, UPM now owns the seven German, Finnish and U.S. mills of its competitor, Myllykoski, which had suffered from debt and declining sales. The acquisition process took about seven months and increased UPM’s total paper mills to 25.

The only change announced so far at the Madison mill is that its president, Russ Drechsel, will be appointed as a member of UPM’s Paper Business Group North America Management Team. There are no other staffing changes in the U.S., UPM said in a statement.

Analysts have been paying closer attention to UPM’s newly acquired mills in Europe. Industry experts told the Reuters news service they expect UPM to eliminate up to 1 million tons of paper capacity, which represents 2 percent of Europe’s nearly 51 million tons. Most cuts are expected to happen in Myllykoski’s former magazine paper mills.

“The means to create synergies here will be very straight-forward. The logic of the whole deal is such that part of the European overcapacity will be removed,” Henri Parkkinen, head of research at Pohjola Markets, told Reuters.

That means mills will close. Another analyst, who was not named by Reuters, said he expects UPM to close mills in Germany and Finland, which have a total of 1,000 employees.

Madison Economic Development Director Joy Hikel said there’s no way to know what UPM will do in Madison, but there have been positive signs the mill will continue to operate. Madison Paper is Madison’s largest property taxpayer; it provided 46 percent of the town’s real estate and personal property taxes in 2010.

The mill filed an application with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on July 22 for an air emission license for a liquefied natural gas regasification project. The mill intends to modify two of its boilers to fire natural gas, while maintaining its capability to operate on fuel oil when not using natural gas, according to the application.

The project will help the mill’s costs, Hikel said, and the long-term planning could be a signal of the mill’s anticipated long-term presence. Also, the mill’s dam on the Kennebec River is an asset, she said.

“It would be devastating to the town if it did close,” she said. “Then again, I look positively.”

UPM held an information session for employees Tuesday at Madison Paper, since it was too late to do so on Monday, Ovaska said. The meeting was not open to the public.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]

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