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B.C. forestry giant Canfor agrees to go private in deal with billionaire Jim Pattison

B.C.’s forestry sector has been in crisis mode recently, amid closures, layoffs and shift reductions at mills across the province, including virtually all of Canfor’s operations. The Canadian Press / Jonathan Hayward

Vancouver-based forestry giant Canfor says it’s agreed to a plan to take the company private.

Under the terms of the near-billion-dollar deal, billionaire Jim Pattison’s Great Pacific Capital Corp., which currently owns 51 per cent of Canfor shares, would buy the remaining 40 per cent at $16 per share.

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That’s an 81 per cent premium over the $8.80 closing price of Canfor stock when it halted trading on Aug. 9 after Great Pacific made the offer.

The company agreed to the plan based on the recommendation of an independent committee of its board of directors.

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And it’s touting the deal as a boon to shareholders amid “ongoing industry headwinds … including high log costs due to supply constraints and significant declines in benchmark price for both lumber and pulp.”

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“It is unknown how long the challenging industry conditions may persist and uncertain when financial results may improve as a result of capacity rationalization in British Columbia,” added Canfor.

The company said the offer represents fair market value, as assessed by an independent financial adviser.

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In August, Great Pacific said privatization would eliminate “significant administrative expenses” incurred by keeping the company public, and the reinvestment of cash into stabilizing Canfor “particularly in British Columbia, where the industry environment remains particularly uncertain and challenging.”

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B.C.’s forestry sector has been in crisis mode recently, amid closures, layoffs and shift reductions at mills across the province, including virtually all of Canfor’s operations.

The company, which employs more than 5,100 people, announced a $124 million operating loss for its third quarter of 2019 earlier this month.

While the company has agreed to the deal, shareholders will still need to weigh in at a special meeting, tentatively scheduled for December.

Canfor said the plan will require the approval of 66.6 per cent of votes cast by holders of canfor shares, and a simple majority of votes cast by shareholders after excluding any Great Pacific shareholders.

It will also require court approvals.

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