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West Fraser Pushes Back at Report of CVC-Kronospan Takeover Bid

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(Bloomberg) -- West Fraser Timber Co. says it hasn’t received a proposal regarding a takeover bid, throwing cold water on a report that CVC Capital Partners has joined forces with a wood-products firm to make a bid for the Canadian lumber company.

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Vancouver-based West Fraser said Tuesday it “has not received a proposal, and there are no ongoing discussions regarding the terms of any transaction.” A Reuters report said CVC and wood-panel manufacturer Kronospan have submitted a joint expression of interest to acquire the company.

The company said it has previously met with Kronospan, an existing shareholder, and CVC, a London-based private equity firm.

West Fraser’s shares pared gains after the company released its statement and trading resumed. The stock was up 13% to C$122.16 at 2:29 p.m. in Toronto after rising as much as 24% earlier in the session.

The takeover report comes as lumber prices have collapsed from all-time highs set in 2021. Higher interest rates have slowed new-home sales, and lumber futures have tumbled 44% this year.

The fear of recession might make the timing right for someone to bid for one of Canada’s biggest lumber companies, said Cole Smead, president and portfolio manager at Smead Capital Management, which owns West Fraser shares.

Billionaire Jim Pattison is West Fraser’s largest shareholder, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and is also the majority shareholder in Canfor Corp., another major Canadian lumber company. Pattison made a failed bid to take Canfor private in 2019 after minority shareholders rejected the offer as too low. Pattison couldn’t be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday.

The Ketcham family, which founded West Fraser in the 1950s, remains a significant shareholder.

“It may not be an easy or quick deal,” said Kevin Mason, managing director of ERA Forest Products Research, speaking before the company issued its statement.

Kronospan has substantial assets in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, which are facing their own struggles because of the war in the region, Mason said.

A spokesperson for CVC declined to comment. Officials from Kronospan couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

(Updates share price in fourth paragraph, adds additional context on lumber prices)

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