04 May 2010

AbitibiBowater moves Stephenville and Botwood properties to subsidiary

As part of its re-organization plan, AbitibiBowater sold its two properties in Newfoundland and Labrador (Stephenville and Botwood) to a subsidiary company on April 27, 2010.

The company is in receivership with Ernst & Young acting as receivers.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador did not object to the arrangements.  The provincial government was represented by Weirfoulds LLP. The arrangements do not alter the environmental orders or the appeal of Judge Clement Gascon’s March 31 decision.

However, the move appears to limit the number of orders affecting AbitibiBowater from ones affecting five sites in the province to only the two that the expropriation act left with the company. 

The cost of clean-up  at Botwood and Stephenville is listed in a report for the court by Ernst & Young as being potentially in the “tens of millions of dollars.” 

The provincial government did not release the cost estimate prepared by its consultants for all five sites, including the Grand Falls mill.  A document filed with the court by Ernst & Young dated February 19 did not establish a clear estimate of the costs involved.  It put the base case estimate as being in the mid to high eight figures and the worst case as being several times that.

The receivers have the power to sell the properties or to make an arrangement to deal with the environmental issues.