Malvern plant among those for sale by Weyerhaeuser

Tuesday, November 29th 2005, 9:38 am
By: News On 6

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (AP) _ The Weyerhaeuser Co. announced plans Tuesday to get out of the composite panels business by selling six medium-density fiberboard and particleboard mills, including one at Simsboro, La.

The plants employ about 1,000 workers. At the same time the company announced a major equipment shutdown at a seventh plant that makes containerboard from recycled fibers, affecting about 200 hourly and salaried workers.

Composite panels have been a strong performer but amount to only a small part of Weyerhaeuser's wood products business, so the mills are no longer a strategic fit for the company, chief executive Steven R. Rogel said in a news release.

The other plants are located at Malvern, Ark., Eugene and Albany, Ore.; Bennettsville, S.C.; and Clonmel, Ireland. The plants have a total production capacity of more than 1.3 billion square feet, including 230 million square feet at the plant in Ireland.

`We believe that the skilled employees at these highly competitive and efficient mills will provide greater value for a new owner who is more focused on this line of business products,'' Rogel said.

In a separate move, Weyerhaeuser announced the indefinite shutdown of a 48-year-old machine that converts recycled fiber into as much as 350,000 tons a year of linerboard, the smooth outer surface of boxes, in Plymouth, N.C.

Weyerhaeuser executives are recommending a permanent shutdown, with action by the board of directors expected next month, to bring containerboard production capacity more in line with demand, Rogel said.

The affected workers will be offered transition benefits and meeting with union officials are planned, the statement said.

The moves follow a number of other shutdown plans announced by Weyerhaeuser, including a pulp and paper facility in Saskatchewan, a box finishing operation in California, a sawmill and pulp mill in Washington and a plywood mill in Oklahoma.