Wausau Paper (NYSE:WPP) today announced that its President and Chief Executive Officer, Henry C. “Hank” Newell, has stepped down as CEO effective immediately and plans to resign from the Company’s Board of Directors after a brief transition period. The Company also announced that Non-Executive Chairman Thomas J. Howatt will be retiring from the Board in advance of the Company’s 2014 Annual Meeting of Shareholders.
Michael C. Burandt, a Wausau Paper Board member since February 2012 and a member of the Board’s Audit and Corporate Governance committees, has been appointed interim Chief Executive Officer and will become Chairman following a brief transition period. The Board is conducting a search for a permanent CEO replacement.
Mr. Burandt said, “On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Hank Newell for his contributions to the Company, and in particular for his role in transforming Wausau Paper into a pure-play tissue company that is well-positioned to deliver value over the long term. We wish Hank all the best in his future endeavors.”
Mr. Burandt continued, “I would also like to thank Tom Howatt for his more than thirty years of dedicated service to Wausau Paper. Tom has led this Company admirably as its Chief Executive Officer and, more recently, as its Chairman of the Board. Tom’s leadership and expertise have been invaluable, and we will be wishing him well as he transitions to retirement from our Board.”
Mr. Burandt added, “Going forward, we will continue to pursue our tissue-focused strategy in order to drive growth, increase earnings, return cash to shareholders and create long-term value. I look forward to the opportunity to work with Wausau Paper’s talented team.”
Mr. Burandt expects to conduct a detailed review of all aspects of the Company’s operations and the impact on first-quarter performance of cold weather, competitive pricing pressure in support product categories, professional fees associated with proxy and advisory services, and other factors. The Company expects to provide further updates to shareholders at the time of its first-quarter earnings announcement.