Boston-based paper producer Sappi North America has combined two key business units to increase profits and spur investment in a more diverse product portfolio, according to the company.

Sappi, which operates mills in Westbrook and Skowhegan, said the decision to combine its packaging and release paper units will better position the company for future growth and innovation. Release papers are embossed or coated papers that mimic the look of leather, exotic skins and other textures used in the apparel and automotive industries, among others.

“Sappi’s stated goal is to have these combined business units represent 25 percent of the global group EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization),” Mark Gardner, president and CEO of Sappi North America, said via email. “Combining these businesses under one person more closely aligns Sappi North America’s organizational structure to the global vision and strategy.”

That “one person” is Deece Hannigan, former vice president of Sappi’s coated paper and packaging business. Hannigan will now serve as vice president in charge of the newly combined packaging and specialties paper business unit, which includes release paper.

A graduate of North Carolina State University, Hannigan joined Sappi in 1988 and has held a number of positions in sales management, marketing and technical specialties, according to Sappi.

Aside from a few changes to upper management, the company’s new organizational structure will not affect workers or customers, Gardner said.

Sappi North America is a subsidiary of Sappi Ltd., a global company headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with more than 12,000 employees and manufacturing operations on three continents in seven countries and customers in over 150 countries around the world. Sappi employs about 1,300 workers in Maine.

In February, Sappi announced that it would invest $165 million to boost capacity at its Somerset mill in Skowhegan.

Sappi described the “significant investment” in Maine as resulting in “further enhancement of offering to graphic paper customers” with a 180,000 metric ton capacity increase on what’s known as Paper Machine No. 1. The project, expanding the machine’s overall capacity and ability to make consumer packaging products, is planned to be finished in early 2018.

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