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Willamette Industries OKs $6-Billion Takeover Offer by Rival Weyerhaeuser

January 22, 2002|From Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. — Willamette Industries Inc. said Monday that it has agreed to a sweetened $6-billion takeover offer by rival Weyerhaeuser Co., ending 14 months of jockeying between the two timber giants.

The companies said Weyerhaeuser will pay $55.50 a share in cash, 50 cents a share more than what Weyerhaeuser Chairman Steven Rogel last month called his final offer.

Willamette said its board is expected to consider the deal before the end of the month. The company also said it had ended negotiations with Georgia-Pacific Corp. to buy its troubled building products division.

Rogel had said any deal with Georgia-Pacific would have ended the Weyerhaeuser bid.

Analysts had warned about potential problems with the purchase of the Georgia-Pacific division, while Willamette shareholders had been putting pressure on the board to consider the Weyerhaeuser offer.

With the agreement, Rogel finally succeeded in what had become a four-year effort to buy Willamette, which he left late in 1997 to become the first outsider chosen as rival Weyerhaeuser's chairman since that company was founded a century ago.

Rogel announced the hostile takeover in November 2000 after Willamette Chairman William Swindells Jr. and his board of directors repeatedly rejected a deal with Weyerhaeuser.

The $55.50 a share offer represents an 18% premium to Willamette's closing price Friday.

Willamette shares rose $1.09 to close at $47.10 in trading Friday, and Weyerhaeuser shares rose 18 cents to $51.51, both on the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. markets were closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Day.

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