Weyerhaeuser bid for timber rival Willamette approved by shareholders

Monday, February 11th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) _ Weyerhaeuser Co. has won its lengthy hostile bid to buy timber rival Willamette Industries for $6.2 billion.

The combined company has nearly 63,000 employees and controls nearly 40 million acres of forest land.

Holders of 97 percent of Willamette's stock agreed to Weyerhaeuser's offer of $55.50 per share, according to Weyerhaeuser's preliminary calculations. That makes Portland, Ore.-based Willamette a wholly owned subsidiary of Weyerhaeuser, the company said Monday.

Weyerhaeuser also agreed to assume about $1.7 billion of Willamette's debt, bringing the total value of the deal to about $8 billion.

Weyerhaeuser, based in Federal Way, Wash., is the nation's third-largest timber products company, and Portland-based Willamette is the seventh.

Weyerhaeuser has said the companies could save $300 million by merging resources, but Weyerhaeuser Chief Executive Officer Steve Rogel said Monday he does not expect widespread layoffs.

The battle started on Nov. 29, 2000, when Rogel started the bidding at $48 per share.

He was a Willamette employee and had been groomed to take over as chief executive, but left in 1997 to become Weyerhaeuser's chairman.

Willamette Chairman William Swindells Jr. and the Willamette board kept rejecting his overtures. Willamette maintained that the company was worth closer to $60 per share.

Swindells and the Willamette board eventually approved the deal last month after increasing pressure from investors.