Exclusive-CVC, Kronospan eye acquisition of West Fraser Timber -sources

·2 min read
Finished lumber is seen at West Fraser Pacific Inland Resources sawmill in Smithers

By Greg Roumeliotis

(Reuters) -Private equity firm CVC Capital and wood panel manufacturer Kronospan have submitted a joint expression of interest to acquire Canadian lumber company West Fraser Timber Co, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

CVC and Kronospan have informed West Fraser's management they would like to proceed with deal negotiations, the sources said. Contemplated acquisition terms could not be learned.

Shares in West Fraser, which has a market capitalization of C$10.6 billion ($8.2 billion), jumped on the news and were up 15% in afternoon trading on Tuesday.

West Fraser confirmed in a statement that it had met with CVC and Kronospan but said that there were no ongoing deal discussions. It added that it had not received an actual proposal and that it was focused on executing its business strategy to create shareholder value.

West Fraser also said that Kronospan was one of its shareholders. Kronospan is affiliated with Banasino Investments Ltd, which holds a stake in West Fraser of more than 8%, according to Refinitiv data.

CVC declined to comment, while Kronospan did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The acquisition interest in West Fraser follows a two-year rally in its shares, as more people isolating and turning to home improvement during the COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in demand for products such as lumber and plywood.

The housing market was boosted more broadly by people seeking more space as they worked from home.

But the company also faces headwinds. It said in its most recent earnings call in April that it had been struggling to fulfill orders because of transport and logistics problems in Western Canada that have persisted in the pandemic.

Privately held Kronospan, run by Austrian businessman Peter Kaindl, is a European maker of wood panels such as particle board and laminate flooring. CVC has 125 billion euros ($128 billion) in assets under management, according to its website.

($1 = 0.9763 euros)

(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Edmund Blair and Nick Zieminski)

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