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Sale of GreenFirst's Quebec sawmills to strengthen Ontario focus

Company owns four lumber mills, one paper mill in northeastern Ontario

GreenFirst Forest Products says that divesting its Quebec assets will enable the company to concentrate its efforts on its Ontario division.

The forest products company announced on Dec. 21 that it was selling its La Sarre and Béarn sawmills, along with its Abitibi and Témiscamingue forestry operations and related assets, to Chantiers Chibougamau Ltée in a $90-million deal.

Chantiers Chibougamau Ltée is a family-owned forest products company that's been in operation since 1961 and employs more than 1,150 people.

GreenFirst said it would use the net proceeds from the sale to “strengthen its balance sheet and continue investing in its Ontario operations."

“This divestiture represents a unique opportunity to unlock shareholder value and concentrate on our operations in Ontario, where we will continue to focus and invest,” said Paul Rivett, chairman of GreenFirst, in a news release.

“We thank all of our dedicated Québec-based employees for their longstanding effort and support. We are committed to ensuring a smooth transition to the family-based Chantiers Chibougamau. This transaction is a win-win for both Chantiers Chibougamau and GreenFirst, as it strengthens the alignment of each company’s primary focus and growth strategies.”

In Northern Ontario, GreenFirst owns and operates sawmills in Chapleau, Cochrane, Hearst and Kapuskasing, along with a newsprint mill in Kapuskasing. The company purchased the Ontario and Quebec assets in 2021 from Rayonier for US$235 million.

The sale of the Quebec assets is subject to customary closing conditions, but is expected to close in the first quarter of 2023.