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Wed., Aug. 22, 2012, 12:05 p.m.

Huge hedge fund pushing Clearwater Paper to break itself into two parts

Investor Malaise, Spokane version, round three.

SAC Capital Advisors, a fairly large hedge fund operated by Steven A. Cohen, is pushing the directors of Spokane-based Clearwater Paper to split its operations so it can sell off one or both.

SAC is a big fund. It owns 1.6 million Clearwater shares, about 7 percent of the company's common stock.

This is not the first time this year investors have squawked at publicly traded Spokane firms and got actively behind efforts to shake things up. A Seattle investor group has been pushing Red Lion Hotels Corp. to make major changes or sell of all or part of its assets to boost investor value.

And two East Coast funds pushed Ambassadors Group to change its board to revamp its marketing and operations, in light of the travel company's distress stock price.

The Cohen SAC initiative was listed in a recent SEC filing. Cohen said he had a meeting with Clearwater directors urging them to split the company and split it and "pursue the divestiture of one or both businesses to one or more strategic and/or financial buyers."

He also asked the company to bring in an investment bank to locate possible buyers. He also wants to add two more independent directors to Clearwater's board.

Clearwater has one large operation dedicated to making tissue and toilet paper. It also has a another segment that makes bleached paperboard for food boxes and commercial printing products.

Clearwater Paper was the spinoff unit from Potlatch, which continues its focus as a timber company.

Clearwater's national headcount is roughly 3,700 employees.

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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.