Plum Creek Timber Company And The Timber Company To Proceed With Merger
Wednesday, June 13, 2001
SEATTLE AND ATLANTA, . June 12, 2001 -- Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc. (NYSE: PCL) and Georgia-Pacific Corporation (NYSE: GP) have amended their merger agreement and are proceeding with the previously announced merger of Plum Creek and The Timber Company (NYSE: TGP). The decision to move forward was made by the boards of directors of Plum Creek and Georgia-Pacific following confirmation that they will receive opinions from tax counsel that the spin-off of The Timber Company from Georgia-Pacific and the subsequent merger with Plum Creek will be tax-free to both companies and their shareholders. The outside legal opinions from independent tax counsel to each company (Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, and McDermott, Will & Emery) would replace a private letter ruling previously requested from the Internal Revenue Service. Plum Creek and The Timber Company plan to hold shareholder meetings on August 15, 2001, to approve the transaction. Closing is expected by the end of September 2001. The IRS has notified the companies that it decided not to issue the private letter ruling because its standard for proving the business purpose for such a ruling had not been met. This high burden of proof, which is more stringent than applicable legal standards, pertains only to advance rulings. Based on discussions with the IRS and the advice of legal counsel, the companies believe the transaction will not be taxable. As an added measure to reduce uncertainty concerning any possible tax risks, the companies will obtain up to $500 million in tax liability insurance. "Plum Creek and Georgia-Pacific have taken action enabling us to move into the final phase of completing this important strategic transaction," said Plum Creek President and CEO Rick R. Holley. "We are highly confident of our position, based on our discussions with the IRS and on the opinions we will receive from tax counsel, that the transaction will be tax-free to all parties. We have used the past several months productively, and our initial work with our new partners has reinforced our confidence that the new Plum Creek will have the scope of resources, scale, structure and combined management capabilities to generate increasing value for the shareholders of the combined company." Following the merger, Plum Creek will be the second largest private timberland owner in the United States, with more than 7.8 million acres of timberlands located in 19 states. A.D. "Pete" Correll, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Georgia-Pacific, said, "This transaction creates significant value for both companies and their shareholders. The opinions of our tax counsel are clear and unambiguous. We believe the opinions of our tax counsel carry sufficient weight for us to move forward with our plans for delivering the value from this transaction, divesting our timberland ownership and continuing to reduce our overall corporate debt." The financial terms of the agreement remain essentially the same. The Timber Company shareholders will receive 1.37 shares of Plum Creek stock for each share of The Timber Company stock. Based on Plum Creek's closing stock price of $28.11 on June 11, 2001, the overall transaction is valued at approximately $3.8 billion, including an estimated $730 million of The Timber Company debt that Plum Creek will re-finance at closing. Both companies will now seek the approval of the merger from their respective shareholders. Proxy statements describing the transaction in detail will be mailed promptly to shareholders of The Timber Company and Plum Creek. Plum Creek, a real estate investment trust, is one of the largest land owners in the nation, with timberlands in the Northwest, Southern, and Northeast regions of the United States and nine wood product mills in the Northwest.