WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (AP) _ Consolidated Papers, Inc. shareholders Wednesday approved a $4.8 billion takeover by Finland's Stora Enso, a move Consolidated executives said was essential to the Wisconsin company's survival.

The company said 77 percent of approximately 5,300 Consolidated shareholders approved the deal, most voting by proxy. The merger needed approval by two-thirds of shareholders.

George Mead, chairman of Consolidated Papers' board of directors, told about 500 shareholders attending Wednesday's meeting in Wisconsin Rapids that the merger was the perfect opportunity for Consolidated to succeed and ``even survive.''

Consolidated Papers will become part of Helsinki, Finland-based Stora Enso's new North American division. The combined company would employ about 7,600 workers and include 12 factories in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nova Scotia.

Also Wednesday, Mead also was elected earlier as the eleventh member of Stora Enso's board effective at the close of the merger.

Kai Korhonen, Stora Enso senior executive vice president, will head the new North American division. Korhonen said some executive offices will remain in Wisconsin Rapids and some will be located in Chicago.

There were no immediate plans to close any mills other than the streamlining announced by Consolidated more than a year ago.