Shareholders representing 98% of the owners in Bergvik Skog AB, a Swedish forest holding company, have agreed to initiate discussions, based on a non-binding letter of intent, aiming at structural changes in Bergvik Skog Group. These shareholders are Stora Enso, Länsförsäkringar, FAM, BillerudKorsnäs, Kåpan Pension, Tredje AP-fonden, Persson Invest, Karl Hedin AB and Tham Invest.
“The wood supply agreement with Bergvik Skog, established 15 years ago, expires next year. Together with our partners, we have had a successful journey which now comes to an end. The planned transaction is a natural next step for us, as we strongly believe in the bioeconomy and want to secure our competitive raw material supply in the long term. We will seek support from the remaining 2% outstanding shareholders as well as all other relevant stakeholders”, says Karl-Henrik Sundström, CEO of Stora Enso.
Bergvik Skog’s Swedish forest assets are owned by its subsidiaries Bergvik Väst AB and Bergvik Öst AB, representing approximately 83% and 17% respectively. As a result of the planned restructuring, Stora Enso would transform its current ownership of 49.3% in Bergvik Skog, to a direct holding of approximately 70% of the value of the forest assets in Bergvik Väst. Further, approximately 15% of Bergvik Väst would be directly owned by FAM, and approximately 15% directly owned by a consortium of smaller shareholders. BillerudKorsnäs would acquire Bergvik Öst. The remaining assets of Bergvik Skog would be liquidated or contributed to the forest holding entities.
The restructuring of Bergvik Skog would involve dividing the company’s assets between the owners. The financial impacts for Stora Enso are estimated to be the following:
Bergvik Skog is currently reported as an equity accounted investment. As a result of the restructuring, Bergvik Väst would be consolidated as a subsidiary. The transaction would result in a cash out effect of EUR 250–300 million. Stora Enso’s current debt would increase by approximately EUR 800 million. The net debt to EBITDA ratio would increase by approximately 0.6. The ratio was 1.8 in the end of Q3/2017. Capital employed would increase by approximately EUR 1 billion, resulting in a decrease in ROCE of approximately 1%-point. Bergvik Väst owns approximately 1.9 million hectares of forest land of which approximately 1.6 million hectares are productive forests. The balance sheet value of the fixed assets of Bergvik Väst amounts to approximately EUR 4 billion.
The final agreements are currently under negotiations between the parties with the aim of initiating the transactions during the first half of 2018. During the transaction and transition period, there will be business as usual for Bergvik Skog. The final agreements are subject to relevant approvals.