Verso Corp., the papermaker with a plant in West Duluth, named B. Christopher DiSantis its top executive Tuesday.

DiSantis starts as president and CEO on Feb. 1 and replaces interim executive Peter H. Kesser, who has served since Sept. 1.

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"I'm thrilled to join Verso's outstanding team as the company continues its evolution in a rapidly changing marketplace," DiSantis, 45, said in a press release. He was most recently president of Hawk Corp., a braking and power transmission products company.

Securities and Exchange Commission filings show DiSantis will be paid at least $825,000 in base salary plus other compensation and benefits.

Former CEO David J. Paterson retired in August. The Tennessee-based company went through bankruptcy under his tenure last spring, and in the fall, Verso idled a plant in Maine, laying off 190 people.

The West Duluth plant, which turns 30 this year, employs about 255 people. The company also has operations in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland and Maine.