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Catalyst Paper targets Latin America as export market

Catalyst Paper mill at Crofton, B.C.

Catalyst Paper

A streamlined Catalyst Paper Corp. is keen to expand its exports to Latin America.

"Latin America is squarely in our target sights, and I'm headed down there the first week of April to meet with a lot of strategic buyers. We are going to expand paper exports in Latin America to beat the band," Catalyst chief executive officer Kevin Clarke said in an interview Tuesday. "We have a sizeable presence in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, some in Brazil and Mexico, too."

Catalyst's other exports include shipments of pulp and paper to China.

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Mr. Clarke rang the bell at the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday morning, signalling Catalyst's return as a publicly traded company. Catalyst went into bankruptcy protection last January and emerged from the process in September. Debt holders are now among the firm's major equity shareholders, including First Eagle Investment Management LLC.

B.C. Opposition NDP Leader Adrian Dix joined Mr. Clarke to help ring the bell. "We invited Adrian. We wanted to make sure we had representatives of the communities across B.C. and he was one of the folks. His schedule sort of coalesced," Mr. Clarke said.

Richmond, B.C.-based Catalyst also extended an invitation for the TSX ceremony to B.C. Premier Christy Clark, whose Liberals were criticized by Mr. Clarke as neglecting to give enough support to Catalyst during its restructuring under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

Mr. Clarke said the Premier was recently on vacation, and he recognizes that she has a busy schedule. "The invitations went out and it didn't give people a lot of pre-planning time. We're not making any political statement in any regard," he said.

He said it's time to focus on the future instead of dwelling on the past. Catalyst has B.C. mills in Powell River, Port Alberni and Crofton.

Newsprint recently accounted for 15 per cent of the company's total revenue while specialty papers chipped in 60 per cent and pulp made up 25 per cent.

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