BY ERIK CAGLE Without a doubt, 2001 was both a forgettable year and a year that won't soon be forgotten. Printers spent most of the year lamenting a poor economy that seemed to be trying to outdo itself in finding new lows with each passing month. Their customers, print buyers, were feeling the pinch: ad pages and folios dwindled, print orders declined and traditional commercial work seemed to be taking a beating. Others blamed the Internet and Web-based technologies for muscling in on the already-thinning turf, but the poster child of 1999 and 2000 was crying in its own beer. Industry dotcoms found venture capitalists weren't venturing

PORTLAND, OR—The art of letter writing is far from dead. Paper manufacturing giants Willamette and Weyerhaeuser are prime examples. In the most recent round of sweet nothings exchanged between the would-be merger companies, Willamette Industries Chairman William Swindells and CEO Duane McDougall sent a letter in October to Steven R. Rogel, chairman, president and CEO of Federal Way, WA-based Weyerhaeuser Co., inviting his company to submit a written offer in the high $50s to spur merger talks. "In view of our desire to put an end to the unproductive and costly stalemate for both our companies and shareholders, we write to offer you a

STAMFORD, CT—The long-awaited paper merger has finally become a reality. Only the participants are a bit surprising. No, Weyerhaeuser did not acquire Willamette. That should take a while. And it wasn't International Paper and Stora Enso (see Paper Mill Watch), which for now is only a rumor. How about Mead Corp. and Westvaco Corp.? On August 29 the companies jointly announced a $3 billion merger, with a combined annual revenues total of $8 billion. The newly created company will be called MeadWestvaco Corp. and will be headquartered here. The move essentially launches MeadWestvaco from mid-sized player into worldwide competition with IP and Georgia-Pacific.

PORTLAND, OR—The barbarians may be at the gate, but integrated forest products giant Willamette doesn't appear ready to throw in the towel. Still, Federal Way, WA-based Weyerhaeuser, repeatedly rebuffed by Willamette during this captivating hostile takeover attempt, made significant inroads toward its goal when the results of the June 7 board of directors election became official. Weyerhaeuser's slate of three—Thomas Luthy, Robert Lane and Evelyn Cruz Sroufe—nudged out the Willamette slate of Kenneth Hergenhan, Duane McDougall (president and CEO) and Robert Smelick for the three positions on the nine-member board. The Weyerhaeuser slate collected 49.16 million shares, or 44.85 percent of the total shares outstanding,

FEDERAL WAY, WA—The high-octane, acrimonious hostile takeover attempt of paper giant Willamette by fellow industry heavy Weyerhaeuser appears far from over. The battle lines were drawn June 7, when Willamette shareholders appeared to have voted in the Weyerhaeuser slate of three to its board of directors; official results weren't expected for a few weeks, as of press time. With their slate in place, Weyerhaeuser vows to nominate another slate of directors for election at the 2002 annual meeting should Portland, OR-based Willamette refuse to negotiate, as has been Weyerhaeuser's contention. Willamette counters that the current offer on the table of $50 per share is not

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

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