After five months of intensive efforts, the continuation of the Scheufelen paper mill in Lenningen (Esslingen district), founded in 1855, has been successfully secured.
Thanks to a strong investor consortium consisting of Green Growth Fund 2 / Wermuth Asset Management, Nordia Invest and Scheufelen Equity Partners, the newly founded “Scheufelen GmbH” will resume business operations with 100 employees on 2 July 2018. Papierfabrik Scheufelen had to file for insolvency at the end of January 2018.
“Despite the temporary cessation of production at the beginning of April 2018 and the release of almost 280 employees due to the insolvency, we have never given up hope and intensive efforts to find a continuation solution,” said the insolvency administrator, lawyer Dr. Tibor Braun from Stuttgart. “In particular the Scheufelen grass paper developed to market maturity in Lenningen and the corresponding very special production know-how was an incentive to exhaust all possibilities for the preservation of the company”.
Scheufelen Grass Paper, which is made from broken up grass fibre and cellulose, had caused a minor revolution in the paper market since mid-2017, not least in order to become more independent of the global cellulose markets. Scheufelen Graspapier is a particularly sustainable and cost-effective virgin fibre paper with massive savings in water, chemicals and energy requirements for the raw fibre. Compared to recycled paper, Scheufelen Graspapier is characterised by the fact that in food applications the mineral oil migration from waste paper, which is contrary to consumer protection, is avoided. In contrast to wood fibres, however, grass fibres also grow back within a very short period of time and thus ensure that packaging made of grass paper quickly compensates for CO².
“The major international consumer goods manufacturers, but also many other market participants and above all end customers have repeatedly underlined their great interest in Scheufelen Graspapier despite the difficult situation of the company”, says Managing Director Stefan Radlmayr, who will also be managing the business at Scheufelen GmbH in future. “This has encouraged investors to rely on the development lead and the skills of the employees as a good basis for future growth at Scheufelen”. Special thanks are due to the remaining employees, but also to those who are leaving the company: “Without your commitment and belief in the future of the company, we would not have made it this far,” says Stefan Radlmayr.
The insolvency administrator is pleased that the continuation solution has made it possible to maintain at least 100 jobs in the Lenninger Tal in the long term and a nucleus for new jobs. “In our efforts, we received exemplary support from both the Federal Employment Agency and the responsible industrial union, Bergbau, Chemie, Energie,” said Braun. In particular, the Federal Employment Agency has been instrumental in the efforts to establish a transfer company that will commence operations on July 2, 2018. The change to this transfer company will enable the further training of the employees not taken over and at the same time offer them the placement know-how of the transfer company Refugio, in order to quickly gain a foothold again in the first labour market. These employees will continue to be employed in the transfer company for up to five months and will therefore not become unemployed. Nearly 100 employees have accepted the offer to transfer to the transfer company. While 340 people were still employed at Scheufelen in 2017, several employees had already found new jobs after the temporary closure. In the end, 264 employees were still employed.
In addition to Scheufelen Graspapier, the investors’ concept still provides for the production and further development of Scheufelen premium paper products that are in demand worldwide, in particular the bright white packaging board Phoenolux, but does without the picture printing papers, which are burdened by high margin pressure and were ultimately the reason for the insolvency. The development and market launch of Scheufelen products will continue to be accompanied by the Packaging Campus Lenningen in cooperation with the Stuttgart Media University and other partners. The innovative Packaging Campus can now strengthen its activities in Lenningen, further research and pilot plant facilities on the subject of resource efficiency and alternative fibres are to follow soon.
Stefan Radlmayr is sure that thanks to the new start, the ideal location in Lenningen can become a beacon project for the bio-economy idea, which is also anchored in the coalition agreement of the state government. In view of the great economic importance of the location for the region, he said it would be desirable if, in addition to classic paper production, these ideas could also be brought to bear quickly. There is great praise for the political support during the insolvency proceedings. “Particular mention must be made of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment, and here above all Minister Franz Untersteller, who helped us not only in the search for investors, but ultimately also in the ultimately very complex implementation of the solution in the public sector, and to an extent I have never experienced before,” said Tibor Braun.
Falkensteg GmbH was responsible for the exclusive implementation of the international investor process.
About the investors
Wermuth Asset Management (WAM), Berlin, is a family office focusing on impact investments in resource-efficient gateway funds.
Nordia Invest, Hamburg, is an investment company that selectively acquires participations, for example from restructuring situations. The focus is primarily on companies or industries that have a classic vertical range of manufacture and can demonstrate sustainable prospects of success in their product area.
Scheufelen Equity Partners, Lenningen, is a holding company of the traditional Swabian entrepreneurial families Schaeff and Scheufelen for sustainable investments in the pulp and paper sector.
Rechtsanwälte Illig, Braun und Kirschnek
Dr. Tibor Braun (insolvency administrator)
Jonas Eckhardt (Partner)
Adolf-Scheufelen-Straße 26, 73252 Lenningen, Deutschland