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Stora Enso Denies Price Fixing in U.S.

Stora Enso Oyj, the world's largest magazine paper maker, on Thursday denied any involvement in a price-fixing conspiracy in the United States and said it will plead not guilty in court.

A federal grand jury in Hartford, Connecticut, indicted Stora Enso North America Corp. on Wednesday for being part of a plan to drive up prices of paper used to print magazines and catalogues.

The company, based in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, is accused of conspiring to inflate prices from August 2002 through June 2003, the U.S. Department of Justice said. According to the indictment, Stora Enso agreed to the scheme in a meeting with an unidentified competitor.

"We are disappointed and surprised that the case continues ... but we deny any wrongdoing and will refute any charges in the case," Stora Enso spokesman Kari Vainio said. The company said it expects the trial to open in 2007.

Stora Enso is one of the world's largest forest product companies, making magazine paper, newsprint, fine paper, pulp and packaging boards. It employs 46,000 people in more than 40 countries.

The group was formed in a 1998 merger between Finland's Enso and Stora of Sweden. The Finnish government is the major shareholder with more than 10 percent of the stock.