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News
Weyerhaeuser a winner?
June 7, 2001: 4:41 p.m. ET

Timber firm claims Willamette board seats, extends $5.5 billion tender offer
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Weyerhaeuser Co., which is trying to buy Willamette Industries, declared victory Thursday in its attempt to secure three seats on the Willamette board, while Willamette contradicted the results.

Based on the number of proxies Weyerhaeuser has submitted to Investor Voting Services, the independent inspectors of the election, the company elected three directors to Willamette's board, Weyerhaeuser said in a statement.

Weyerhaeuser also extended its $50 a share, or $5.5 billion cash bid until midnight, Eastern Time, on June 28.

"We are confident that the final outcome of today's vote will clearly demonstrate that the Willamette shareholders want and expect their board to enter into negotiations with Weyerhaeuser to reach a mutually beneficial transaction," Weyerhaeuser CEO Steven Rogel said.

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However, Willamette (WLL: up $0.20 to $48.78, Research, Estimates)  said the preliminary results do not indicate a clear winner and it will take another two-to-three weeks to tally the votes.

"The vote was very close," said Willamette spokesman Jim Barron. "Obviously, we have to wait until all votes are certified."'

The proxy vote indicates that Willamette shareholders desire some form of "value-enhancing transaction." However, Chairman William Swindells reiterated that the company's strategy is not to sell.

"We will certainly not sell this company for less value than we believe we can generate on our own, and we're going to continue fighting for full value for our shareholders," Swindells said.

Federal Way, Wash.-based Weyerhaeuser (WY: up $0.49 to $58.85, Research, Estimates)  has been trying to buy Willamette since last year but has been rejected each time. Timber company Weyerhaeuser first made a $48 a share bid, or $5.24 billion for Portland, Ore.-based Willamette last November and then raised the offer earlier this month, to $50 a share, or $5.5 billion. Weyerhaeuser has even indicated that it would be open to raising its already sweetened $5.5 billion offer.

Portland, Ore.-based Willamette had vowed to pull out of the running for Willamette if its fails to secure the three board seats. The two firms have engaged in much heated verbal volleys with Weyerhaeuser urging Willamette shareholders to vote for their slate. graphic

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