Abitibi-Consolidated and Bowater agree to merge
Jan. 29, 2007 (Press Release) - Abitibi-Consolidated and Bowater today announced a definitive agreement to combine in an all-stock merger of equals. The combination will create a new leader in publication papers—an operationally and financially stronger company better able to meet changing customer needs, compete more effectively in an increasingly global market, adapt to lower demand for newsprint in North America, and deliver increased value to shareholders.
The combined company, which will be called AbitibiBowater Inc., will have pro forma annual revenues of approximately US$7.9 billion (C$9.3 billion), making it the 3rd largest publicly traded paper and forest products company in North America and the 8th largest in the world. The current combined enterprise value of the two companies is in excess of US$8 billion (C$9.4 billion).
John W. Weaver, President and Chief Executive Officer of Abitibi-Consolidated, will be Executive Chairman of AbitibiBowater, and David J. Paterson, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bowater, will be President and Chief Executive Officer of AbitibiBowater. The AbitibiBowater Board of Directors will consist of 14 directors, seven from each company.
AbitibiBowater's headquarters and executive office will be located in Montreal, Quebec, with a U.S. regional manufacturing and sales office in Greenville, South Carolina. The company, which will be incorporated in Delaware as the new parent company, will apply to list its shares on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges.
Under the terms of the transaction, each common share of Abitibi-Consolidated will be exchanged for 0.06261 common share of AbitibiBowater, and each Bowater common share will be exchanged for 0.52 common share of AbitibiBowater. The exchange ratio will result in 48% of AbitibiBowater being owned by former Abitibi-Consolidated shareholders and 52% of AbitibiBowater being owned by former Bowater shareholders.
The combination is expected to generate approximately US$250 million (C$295 million) of annualized cost synergies from improved efficiencies in such areas as production, selling, general and administrative (SG&A) costs, distribution and procurement. These synergies are in addition to cost saving initiatives already in process at both companies.
Mr. Weaver said, "The new AbitibiBowater will be a global leader headquartered in Canada with a brighter future than either company would have on its own. The combined company's ability to realize significant synergies will increase shareholder value, improve our financial flexibility and better position us to compete in today's increasingly competitive global marketplace. Combining our companies is also the best way to continue to contribute to the local and regional economies of the communities in which we operate."
Mr. Paterson said, "This is a logical strategic step to address the realities of today's marketplace. A more efficient manufacturing platform will enable us to bring our customers better product quality, new product innovation, and improved logistical flexibility. Both Abitibi-Consolidated and Bowater shareholders will benefit from the upside potential of a financially stronger company that is able to generate significant cost synergies, improve its balance sheet, and compete more effectively."
AbitibiBowater's product lines will include newsprint, uncoated and coated mechanical papers, market pulp, and wood products. The company will also be one of the world's leading consumers of recycled newspapers and magazines as it builds on the existing efforts of both companies to be leaders in environmentally sustainable production practices.
AbitibiBowater will own or operate 32 pulp and paper facilities and 35 wood product facilities located mainly in Eastern Canada and the Southeastern U.S. Pro forma combined paper production capacity is approximately 11.3 million tonnes per year and about 3.1 billion board feet of lumber.
The exchanges of Abitibi-Consolidated and Bowater common shares for AbitibiBowater common shares will be tax deferred for U.S. resident holders of Abitibi-Consolidated and Bowater common shares. Taxable Canadian resident holders of Abitibi-Consolidated common shares may elect to receive on a tax-deferred basis exchangeable shares of a Canadian subsidiary of AbitibiBowater. AbitibiBowater will apply to list these exchangeable shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange. These shares will be exchangeable into AbitibiBowater common shares at the option of their holders.
For Abitibi-Consolidated, the combination will be achieved through a Canadian Court-approved Plan of Arrangement requiring the affirmative vote of the holders of two-thirds of the Abitibi-Consolidated common shares present or represented by proxy at a meeting of Abitibi-Consolidated shareholders. For Bowater, the combination will be effected through a Delaware merger requiring the affirmative vote of a majority of all outstanding Bowater common shares at a meeting of Bowater shareholders.
The combination has been approved unanimously by the Boards of Directors of both companies, which received fairness opinions from their respective financial advisors. The combination is subject to approval by the shareholders of both companies, regulatory approvals, and customary closing conditions. It is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2007. Abitibi-Consolidated and Bowater will continue to operate separately until the transaction closes.
For Abitibi-Consolidated, CIBC World Markets Inc. and Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC acted as financial advisors and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, and McCarthy Tetrault LLP acted as legal advisors.
For Bowater, Goldman, Sachs & Co. and UBS Investment Bank acted as financial advisors and Troutman Sanders LLP, Ogilvy Renault LLP, and Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP acted as legal advisors.
About Abitibi-Consolidated Inc.
Abitibi-Consolidated is a global leader in newsprint and commercial printing papers as well as a major producer of wood products, serving clients in some 70 countries from its 45 operating facilities. Abitibi-Consolidated is among the largest recyclers of newspapers and magazines in North America, diverting annually approximately 1.9 million tonnes of waste paper from landfills. It also ranks first in Canada in terms of total certified woodlands.
About Bowater Incorporated
Bowater Incorporated is a leading producer of coated and specialty papers and newsprint. In addition, the company sells bleached market pulp and lumber products. Bowater has 12 pulp and paper mills in the United States, Canada and South Korea. In North America, it also owns two converting facilities and 10 sawmills. Bowater's operations are supported by approximately 835,000 acres of timberlands owned or leased in the United States and Canada and 28 million acres of timber cutting rights in Canada. Bowater operates six recycling plants and is one of the world's largest consumers of recycled newspapers and magazines.
SOURCE: Abitibi-Consolidated Inc.