Mercer International Inc., a global forest products company based in Vancouver, BC, reported it received approval from the applicable Bankruptcy Court for the purchase by its subsidiary, Blue Varsity, of the cross-laminated timber manufacturing facility in Spokane, Wash. formerly owned by Katerra for $50 million through a bidding process.
Katerra, a mass timber and modular turnkey construction business founded in 2015, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early June. The $150 million CLT plant, which was commissioned in May 2019, was subsequently shut down.
The facility is located on 54 acres and is equipped with extensive automation technologies including one of the largest CLT presses in the world. The plant has capacity of approximately 13MMSF of 5-ply panels annually or 140,000 m3 of annual production.
David Gandossi, CEO of Mercer, states, “We are very pleased with our impending acquisition of the facility. It represents an attractive entry point for us into the CLT business with a near new state-of-the-art facility. It fits well with our strategy to expand in the solid wood products space and aligns with a core value to provide sustainable and carbon reducing alternatives for a warming planet.”
Mercer International has operations in Germany and Canada and reports a consolidated annual production capacity of 2.2 million tonnes of pulp and 550MMBF of lumber.
Another new facility formerly owned by Katerra, a component manufacturing plant in Tracy, Calif., was acquired through a bidding process by Philadelphia-based Volumetric Building Companies (VAC). The company defines itself as a “volumetric modular business that simplifies complex issues by integrating architecture, logistics, manufacturing, and construction into a single package to produce multifamily housing solutions in less time at a greater return.”
Katerra went through $3 billion in equity investments since its founding. In the bankruptcy filing Katerra estimated liabilities of $1 billion to $10 billion
Katerra wasn’t shy about wanting to shake up—and speed up—the conventional construction industry. In addition to building manufacturing plants, it bought everything from architectural firms, to construction firms to dirt contractors. But many of the projects it entered into appeared to experience the same hiccups and cost overruns that conventional on-site construction projects sometimes encounter, and perhaps with less quality, as Katerra tacked on substantial costs related to re-work issues.
Katerra experienced nearly $2.8 billion in financial losses in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Both Mercer and VAC were stalking-horse bidders whose original bids prevailed for their respective acquisitions.
Article by Jessica Johnson, Senior Editor, Timber Processing January/February 2024
Some of the smartest men and women in the industry have graced the pages of this magazine—and have won the award of Timber Processing Person of the Year. They’ve all been incredibly worthy of this recognition for innovation, commitment and love of the industry they serve. Perhaps none have been quite as innovative as the introverted sawmiller from Georgia named Levi Anderson Pollard, V, whose name is on two of the patents that changed the way the sawmilling world manufactures and dries lumber (and on so many other patents as well).
Walter Jarck, whose career in the forest products industry spanned 65 years and ranged from logging machinery to engineered wood products, died January 3, surrounded by his children, in North Wilkesboro, NC. He was 92.
Carbotech Group has acquired Sawquip, a manufacturing company specializing in the design and manufacture of sawmill equipment for the primary and secondary breakdown of logs into lumber. This acquisition allows Carbotech Group to add on a new field of expertise, providing customers with innovative new solutions for lumber production. Sawquip’s innovative products include log turners and optimized log infeeds, chipping canters, twin and quad circular saw modules, as well as optimized gangs for controlled shape sawing, among others.
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