It remains unclear what's in store for about 300 employees after International Paper announced this week that it is buying the containerboard unit of Weyerhaeuser Co. for $6 billion in cash. Both companies have plants in Modesto.
An International Paper spokeswoman said there likely will be "streamlining" of the two companies' operations, but said no details will be available until after the sale is finalized later this year.
"We really don't have a sense at this point of what, if anything, will occur at those plants or other individual plants," International Paper spokeswoman Amy Sawyer said.
"We do know that it will enable us to be more successful than before," she said. "We feel good about it and hope that Weyerhaeuser employees are feeling pretty good about the investment in packaging."
Sawyer said the company has identified $400 million in "profit improvement potential" that may include combining some businesses for better geographic distribution.
The Weyerhaeuser and International Paper plants in Modesto are in the Beard Industrial District.
International Paper's corrugated cardboard box plant in Mo-desto employs about 100 people. The company sold a carton manufacturing plant in Turlock last year that it had owned for 50 years.
Weyerhaeuser's plant in Mo- desto employs 198 people. It is a full-service box plant that makes boxes and packaging largely used by agricultural businesses, Weyerhaeuser spokesman Frank Mendizabal said.
Mendizabal said Weyerhaeuser employees should have "reason to be optimistic" about the sale. He said the company chose to exit the containerboard side of the business to focus on timber.
"We've had it under strategic review for 10 months," he said. "(Employees) went through that period of uncertainty, and now we have come to a resolution."
The planned purchase would make Memphis-based International Paper the largest containerboard producer in North America with a 29 percent market share.
The sale includes nine container board mills; 72 packaging locations; 10 specialty packaging plants; four kraft bag and sack locations; and 19 recycling plants.
About 14,300 employees work at the containerboard packaging and recycling operations.
Bee staff writer Christina Salerno can be reached at email@example.com or 238-4574.