Overton Mill assets go up for sale

Jo Francis
Monday, September 26, 2022

Portals has engaged Hilco Global to dispose of the assets at its specialist Overton banknote paper mill, which is being shut down.

PM2 at Overton Mill: one of four paper machines up for sale
PM2 at Overton Mill: one of four paper machines up for sale

Portals announced the closure in July, after the historic mill – despite being the subject of substantial recent investment – became unviable. 

Hilco Global has teamed with global paper industry expert John Wilkie of John Wilkie Papermill Services on the sale, which spans a vast array of highly-specialised equipment. 

This includes a pulp mill for the cotton paper made at Overton, four paper machines, mould cylinders, and foiling and gravure coating systems. 

Laboratories, spares, colour kitchens, combined heat and power equipment and an effluent treatment plant are also included. The sale runs to more than 740 lots. 

Hilco Global director Spencer Chapman told Printweek that the firm felt privileged to be working on the project. 

“The history of the site, the unique manufacturing processes and the intricacies of the finished products are all fascinating,” he said. 

 “As the sale is on behalf of the owners due to the orderly wind down and closure of the Overton Mill, we have the added benefit of extended site occupation and being able to work alongside an incredibly experienced management team enabling us to reach out to the global market – we have already received strong interest in machinery from every populated continent and interest grows daily.”

Overton is located on a 30 acre site in Hampshire that is owned by Portals. It’s believed to be unlikely that anyone would make a bid for the entire mill, which had the capacity to make around 14,000 tonnes of banknote paper a year. 

Chapman said Hilco had been pleasantly surprised at the diverse backgrounds of many of the interested parties to date.

“Every sovereign nation has a currency manufacturing requirement, but additional interest has come from all manner of paper manufacturers, security printers and paper product converters, as well as a number of parties from totally unrelated industries for the more generic industrial assets,” he added. 

Printweek understands that the employee consultation at Overton has now concluded, with the site still producing and finishing its last remaining orders. Hilco said the asset sale would probably conclude in late autumn. 

More than 300 jobs will go as a result of the closure. 

Portals will continue to operate its Bathford Mill in Somerset, which makes security papers including paper used in passports. 

Portals founder Henry Portal originally set up a paper mill at Bere Mill, on the River Test between Overton and Whitchurch, in 1712.

In a bleak period for UK papermaking, Arjowiggins went into administration last week with the immediate loss of 368 jobs, from a total of 463.

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