VANCOUVER (From news reports) -- Canadian billionaire Jim Pattison, whose conglomerate owns businesses including supermarkets, fisheries and billboards, offered to take lumber producer Canfor Corp. private for about C$981.6 million ($742 million). The stock surged in response.
Pattison's Great Pacific Capital Corp., which already owns 51% of Canfor, on Sunday proposed buying out the remaining shares for C$16 apiece, an 82% premium to the stock's closing price on Friday. Vancouver-based Canfor said it has formed a special committee of independent directors to review the offer.
The deal would give Pattison, who is sometimes referred to as Canada's Warren Buffett, full control over the maker of lumber, plywood, pulp and paper. The offer comes amid a slump in Canfor's shares, which have plunged 69% in the past 12 months through Friday as the U.S. housing market has slowed.
Canfor's shares jumped 73.5% to C$15.27 per share. Analysts were generally in favor of the deal, with Paul Quinn, an analyst at the Royal Bank of Canada, saying it brings a "vote of confidence" to the industry.
Other lumber and pulp companies in the region rallied on the news. Interfor Corp.'s stock jumped 9.2% to C$11.97 per share while fellow Vancouver-based West Fraser Timber Co's stock is up 5.9% to C$48.87 per share.
British Columbia production has been facing headwinds this year following record high prices in 2018. Declining wood availability due to the mountain pine beetle infestation and forest fires have pushed production costs up. While weak lumber prices due to a slow spring building season in the wet U.S. have dragged lumber prices down. The combination has forced B.C. producers to curtail and shutdown production at various mills.
Traders in lumber production futures, meanwhile, are unconvinced by the proposed privatization. Chicago futures are down 0.8% in morning trading at $346.20 per thousand board feet.
The Canfor deal -- which values the entire company at about C$2 billion, based on 125.2 million shares outstanding -- would require the holders of two-thirds of the stock to approve a special resolution, Great Pacific said.