Weyerhaeuser, the last major public integrated forest products company still standing, continues its march to a REIT structure. For some background on the Weyerhaeuser REIT issue, you can visit my posts of May 4, 2007, Weyerhaeuser Takes First Step Toward REIT; May 8, 2007, TIMOs and REITs and Oct 30, 2007 which includes some REIT speculation and an estimate of the value of Weyerhaeuser's timberland. The May 8th post includes an excellent background article on REITS by Cliff Hickman with the U.S. Forest Service.
Yesterday's announcement that Daniel Fulton, head of Weyerhaeuser Real Estate just last December, and promoted to President of Weyerhaeuser just four months ago, has been promoted to CEO of Weyerhaeuser. That's a fast track! And a significant step toward the REIT.
One of the issues preventing Weyerhaeuser from converting to a REIT is all of its manufacturing facilities. It is clear that WY has been moving rapidly to divest itself, by sale or mill shut downs, of facilities. Check out this list of news releases since the first of the year. The number of mills shuttered or sold already this year is staggering. Although individually they may appear to be small steps, collectively, it appears to me to be a giant step toward the REIT.
I think Weyerhaeuser was originally optimistic that they could save the company by means of the Timber Revitalization and Economic Enhancement Act (the so-called TREE Act) which would have lowered the capital gains tax rate on timber sales to 14%. I think that the possibility of any tax reduction for large corporations is pretty much dead for the foreseeable future and I'm sure the folks at Weyerhaeuser would not argue that. Another step toward the REIT and the march goes on.
It would appear that the only remaining question now is "When?". "If" is history. --Brian