Louisiana-Pacific Buying Canadian Rival Ainsworth Lumber in $1.1 Billion Deal

Andrew Klips  |

In a heavy week of acquisition news, construction materials manufacturer Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LPX) said after Wednesday’s closing bell that it is opening its pocketbook to shell-out about $863 million to acquire Vancouver-based Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd. ($ANS:CA).  Including debt that LP will assume and an Ainsworth’s estimated cash balance, the transaction is worth about $1.1 billion.  The deal equates to Louisiana-Pacific paying C$3.76 per share of Ainsworth, a 30-percent premium to Tuesday’s closing price of ANS on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Total consideration will consist of 52 percent in cash and 48 percent in LP common shares.

Ainsworth is a leading manufacturer and seller of oriented strand board, or OSB, a product regularly used in all-types of construction, including housing exteriors.  Ainsworth has four manufacturing facilities, located in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

“Ainsworth has very high quality assets and provides us with an expanded suite of strand-based products and technologies, additional access to key international growth markets, particularly in Asia, and enhanced scale and efficiencies in North America,” said Curt Stevens, chief executive at Louisiana-Pacific.

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LP is aiming to bolster is OSB segment, the largest contributor to corporate revenue, and capitalize on the ongoing recovery of the housing market.  The LP chief noted that the APA consensus is for U.S. housing starts to reach 957,000 in 2013 (up 23 percent from 2012) and to climb to 1.2 million starts in 2014.

In July, housing starts in Canada totaled 17,993, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., putting the nation on pace for 192,853 starts for 2013.  Although starts were down 9.5 percent from the year earlier, Canada’s housing market is holding relatively steady and seems to be avoiding a bubble pop that many economists were originally expecting.

Nashville, Tennessee-based LP currently employs more than 1,200 people across Canada, representing about 33 percent of its total workforce in North America.  The acquisition boosts its number of corporate-owned Canadian manufacturing facilities to seven, where it makes a variety of OSB products, siding and engineered wood products.  Additionally, LP is part of joint venture in two other factories in Quebec.

The acquisition is expected to be earnings and cash flow accretive in the first year.  On a pro forma basis, the combined company generated approximately USD$2.5 billion in sales, USD$300 million in income from continuing operations, and adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations of USD$575 million for the 12 months ended June 30, 2013.

The Ainsworth board has unanimously offered its support and Brookfield Asset Management, Inc., a private equity firm that owns 54-percent of Ainsworth, has entered into an agreement in favor of the transaction.

Shares of LPX ended Wednesday trading ahead by 6 cents at $15.26.  Toronto-listed shares of ANS closed up 5 cents at $2.94.

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