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Originally published June 16, 2013 at 4:05 PM | Page modified June 17, 2013 at 6:31 AM

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Weyerhaeuser pays $2.6B to snag Longview Timber

The deal, involving 45,000 acres of timberlands in Washington and Oregon, will be the third-largest forestry acquisition in North America. Federal Way-based Weyerhaeuser also announced a new CEO and said it may sell its homebuilding unit.

Bloomberg News

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Federal Way-based Weyerhaeuser announced Sunday it is buying Longview Timber for $2.65 billion, including debt from affiliates of Brookfield Asset Management, in the third-largest forestry acquisition in North America.

And it added that it may spin off or sell its homebuilding unit.

The Longview deal will close in July. The company said it plans to boost its quarterly cash dividend to 22 cents a share in September from 20 cents.

Weyerhaeuser also said former Temple-Inland Chief Executive Doyle Simons will take over as its CEO in August, succeeding Dan Fulton, who will serve as executive vice chairman until he retires in October. Simons headed the cardboard-packaging company for four years until its acquisition by International Paper in 2012.

“As former CEO and chairman of Temple-Inland, Doyle has a proven track record of driving performance to achieve results,” Weyerhaeuser Chairman Chuck Williamson said in a statement.

“He has deep experience in the forest-products industry, broad business and functional expertise and a passion for operational excellence,” Williamson said.

With the timber deal, Weyerhaeuser will get about 645,000 acres of timberlands in Washington and Oregon from buying Southwest Washington-based Longview, expanding its Pacific Northwest holdings by 33 percent to 2.6 million acres.

The acquisition will boost the acreage in the U.S. that Weyerhaeuser it owns or controls to about 6.6 million.

“It’s a pretty big price what they’re paying for it, but it’s indicative of the quality of timber they bought,” Paul Quinn, a Vancouver, B.C.-based analyst at RBC Capital Markets who has a buy rating on Weyerhaeuser, said in a telephone interview.

“It allows them to increase the harvest level in the short term. They’ll have more cash flow to pay the dividend,” Quinn said.

Sharon Stern, an external Weyerhaeuser spokeswoman, declined to comment on how much debt the company is assuming in the acquisition.

Weyerhaeuser said it plans to finance the deal by raising about $2.45 billion through selling debt and equity and has a committed senior unsecured bridge loan facility with Morgan Stanley.

The takeover is the largest forestry acquisition in North America after Resource Management Service’s $5 billion purchase of International Paper assets in 2006 and Plum Creek Timber’s $3.34 billion acquisition of a timber business from Georgia-Pacific in 2001, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Weyerhaeuser also said it’s looking at options including a sale or spinoff for its Weyerhaeuser Real Estate homebuilding and real-estate-development business.

The business, also called Wreco, includes Quadrant Homes and Pardee Homes, and is one of the country’s biggest homebuilders.

The company said it hopes to take advantage of the improving housing market.

Last year, the real-estate division reported nearly $1.1 billion in revenue, up 28 percent from the prior year.

The company said it will consider selling or spinning off Wreco, though it may also decide to hold onto the unit.

“The board of directors and management team are committed to further enhancing value for all Weyerhaeuser shareholders, ” Fulton said in a statement. “This process will help ensure that Wreco achieves its full potential while we continue to build on Weyerhaeuser’s track record of shareholder value creation.”

Last week, Toronto-based Brookfield agreed to sell its Longview Fibre Paper and Packaging unit to KapStone Paper and Packaging for $1.03 billion in cash.

The timing of the sale of the Longview timber and packaging units, which Brookfield acquired together in 2007, was coincidental, the investment company said Sunday.

Weyerhaeuser is holding a conference call early Monday to give more details of the acquisition.

Its stock closed at $28.29 Friday. The shares have risen 1.7 percent this year, while the Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Industry Group Index has climbed 4.8 percent in the same period.

Material from The New York Times was included in this report.

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