The big forest companies in Québec are gone

Resolute Forest Products, a company founded more than 200 years ago and the largest of its kind in Quebec, announced yesterday that it has accepted a $3.5 billion purchase offer.

• Also read: Sale of Resolute Forest Products: the latest in a long line of loss of control


A rail convoy carrying goods manufactured by Resolute Forest Products in Quebec en route to Florida.

Screenshot, TVA Nouvelles

A rail convoy carrying goods manufactured by Resolute Forest Products in Quebec en route to Florida.

The buyer is Paper Excellence from British Columbia, which is controlled by billionaire investors from Indonesia, the Widjaja family.

“I am very aware that our company has a history of more than 200 years, but I see it more as a step in our evolution,” argued Resolute’s grand boss, Rémi Lalonde, during a telephone interview with The newspaper.

“We think this is good news for Quebec, for the company, for its employees and for its retirees,” said Mr. Lalonde.

Less influence on decisions

Marc-Urbain Proulx, an economics professor at the University of Québec in Chicoutimi, is not so convinced.

“For states like Quebec that have natural resources to sell while also trying to get a reasonable rent, this isn’t such fantastic news because it just strengthens a movement [de consolidation] it robs us of the power to express what we want,” he said.

get jobs

Paper Excellence “plans to maintain Resolute’s manufacturing facilities and employment numbers,” the company said in a statement.

Resolute operates several sawmills, paper, pulp and lumber mills in Quebec. In Saguenay, the company has had seven power plants for decades, allowing it to provide electricity to two of its factories at a very low cost. Around 450 people work at the headquarters in Montreal.

Just a few months ago, Paper Excellence acquired Domtar, another forest company with deep roots in Quebec, for nearly $4 billion.

Paper Excellence is committed to maintaining Resolute’s Montreal headquarters, said Rémi Lalonde.

Given the presence of Domtar’s administrative staff in metropolitan Quebec, “Montreal is becoming an important hub” for the buyer, the manager argued.

“We can promise everything stays in Montreal… That’s good, but for how long? reacted the economist and former minister Daniel Paillé.

Resolute forest products in brief

  • Income 2021: $3.7 billion
  • Net profit 2021: $307 million
  • Employee : 6521 in North America, including 3924 in Quebec

A company rooted in Québec since 1820

While not everyone is familiar with its name, Resolute Forest Products and its many previous incarnations are closely linked to the economic development of several regions of Quebec.

Resolute’s origins date back to 1820, when Briton William Price, dubbed the “Father of Saguenay” by some, founded the William Price Company in Quebec. In 1867 three of his sons took over the assets of the timber trading business and founded Price Brothers and Company.

In 1886, William Price III, William Price’s grandson, took over management of the group and led it into the manufacture of newsprint. In 1912 he founded the industrial town of Kénogami, which today belongs to Saguenay.

A spectacular headquarters

In the late 1920s, the company constructed the gigantic Price Building in Old Quebec that would become its headquarters.

In 1974, the Montreal company, founded in 1914, acquired Abitibi Price. In the course of numerous mergers and acquisitions, the group took the names Abitibi-Price (1979), Abitibi-Consolidated (1997) and AbitibiBowater (2007).

In 2000, the company acquired Montreal-based Donohue for…$7.1 billion.

In 2009, following bankruptcy, AbitibiBowater began a legal restructuring that was completed the following year. In 2011 it changed its name to Resolute Forest Products.

Main editing rights holders in Quebec

  1. Solved (QC): 4,109,750m3
  2. Arbec (QC): 2,252,000m3
  3. Interfor (BC): 774,850m3
  4. West Fraser (BC): 749,500m3
  5. GreenFirst (A): 680 200m3

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