Questions surround mill purchase

A New Jersey-based company has reached an agreement to purchase the last North Country paper mill from Fraser Papers, but questions remain about the identity of the purchaser.Gov. John Lynch announced yesterday in a press release that Fraser Papers Inc., owner of the Gorham mill, has agreed to sell the facility to MM Consulting and Contracting Company.In a separate press release, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen identified the purchasing company as Northeast Papers, which, according to George Bald, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, is the name of the partnership that is buying mill. It’s also the name entity will be called if the acquisition goes through, he said.Fraser Papers shut down the Gorham mill on Oct. 13, leaving more than 200 workers without jobs. According to Glen McMillan, chief restructuring officer for Fraser, who said the purchasing company is based in New Jersey, “We were pleased we could do this and sell to an entity who has agreed to operate plant as a paper mill and preserve jobs.”McMillan particularly credited DRED and Bald as well, as the governor and Shaheen, in helping to bring about the transaction.But little information could be found abut MM Consulting or Mike Mascotta, Fraser officials identified as company principal.Subsequent research by NHBR was able to identify a company named M&M Consulting & Contracting Inc. in Jersey City, N.J., a demolition and construction contractor owned by Michael Moscato.Bald said that M&M Consulting was “one and the same” as MM Consulting.Bald said Frank delGreco, who has extensive experience in the paper industry, is a partner in the deal with Moscato, and “would be the one running the day-to-day operations of the mill.”The commissioner was optimistic about the deal, saying it “was done with the understanding that it would still function as a mill.”M&M Consulting was the defendant in a civil suit filed in 2000 by the Mason Tenders District Council, a New York labor union representing construction workers, asbestos and hazardous materials handlers and recycling and waste handlers over nonpayment of dues. The site ended in a judgment for more than $40,000 plus attorney fees.In April 2008, M&M also was cited in California by the federa Occupational Safety and Health Administration and fined $12,450 for alleged violations.According to a spokeperson for the California Department of Industrial Relations, Moscato made one payment of $150 in October 2008 toward the OSHA fine, and the department is seeking payment for the unpaid balance of $12,300.The case is still pending.A previous deal to purchase the mill was struck in June with Manchester-based MerchantBanc, but fell through in September after investors could not secure enough financing. “We’re very glad that the Gorham mill has found a purchaser who will use it as a mill,” said Jeffrey Pollack, president and chief executive of MerchantBanc.When asked if he was familiar with M&M Consulting, he said he was not.
“As we were working on our package, we heard a number of names mentioned as potential buyers, but this was not one I heard of,” said Pollack. “That doesn’t mean it wasn’t — I just I didn’t hear of.” – CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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