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WEST VIRGINIA-Stamford, CT-headquartered global packaging, office products and specialty chemicals producer MeadWestvaco Corp. has disposed of 95,500 acres of forestland in an unnamed area of West Virginia. The Forestland Group LLC, acting on behalf of Heartwood Forestland Fund IV Limited Partnership, acquired the property in a $50-million cash deal. MeadWestvaco will see a $38-million pretax profit on the transaction.

As of October of this year, the company reportedly was in possession of approximately 350,000 acres of West Virginia forestland. Just last month MeadWestvaco officials revealed intentions to sell off approximately 950,000 targeted acres from its portfolio during the next two to three years. The land, company honchos declared, no longer fit the company’s plans for productivity. “We will continue to assess our investment in forestlands and to divest properties that are no longer needed to support our manufacturing operations,” company chairman and CEO John A. Luke Jr. says in a written statement. “In addition, following our planned merger with Mead, we will place a high priority on analyzing the potential for forestland divestitures from our combined land base.” Westvaco merged earlier this year with Mead to take on its current incarnation.

MeadWestvaco’s activities in the Mid-Atlantic region over the last several months have been part of a grand strategy to improve overall efficiency. October brought news of the company’s intentions to close down eight paper sheeting machines at the Luke, MD plant in 2003–a move that will significantly cut activity at the facility and cost the Allegany County area approximately 150 jobs.

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