Weyerhaeuser Re-extends Bid to Acquire Willamette

NEW YORK—As the paper turf struggle between Weyerhaeuser and Willamette continues to heat up, one thing is becoming increasingly clear—it’s a personal issue. In the end, however, the almighty dollar is expected to prevail.

For the second time this year, Federal Way, WA-based Weyerhaeuser has extended its $5.4 billion hostile bid for fellow paper giant Willamette, of Portland, OR. Weyerhaeuser made the announcement in early February, opening the window until March 30.

During the announcement, Weyerhaeuser representatives noted that 51 percent of Willamette’s shares had been tendered at $48 per share. At the initial January 5 deadline, the company said that 48 percent of Willamette’s shares had been tendered.

Shareholders are prohibited from purchasing more than 15 percent of Willamette’s stock without prior board approval.

“Weyerhaeuser may choose to keep extending its $48 per share offer indefinitely, but it won’t change anything,” noted Willamette CEO Duane McDougall in a statement. “Our board has said Willamette is not for sale and has made it clear, in public documents and numerous previously disclosed conversations with Weyerhaeuser executives, that their offer is inadequate.

“We encourage all Willamette shareholders not to tender their shares to Weyerhaeuser and, for those who have, to withdraw them,” he adds.

McDougall recently told a group of New York investors that a cultural gap exists between the companies: Weyerhaeuser has numerous corporate levels, he claims, as opposed to the autonomy of lower-level management enjoyed by Willamette.

McDougall also criticized the four nominees that Weyerhaeuser is attempting to elect to Willamette’s board of directors. Of the four, three are retired Weyerhaeuser executives.

There is a strong chance Weyerhaeuser will raise its bid before Willamette’s annual meeting, which must take place before June 30.

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