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ANZAC deal gives boost to forest products industry

20 April 2004

ANZAC deal gives major boost to forest products industry

Leading Australian and New Zealand R&D agencies in the forestry sector will join forces as of 1st July this year, representing a major boost to the forest products industries within each country.

The announcement of the new joint venture between Australia's CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products and Forest Research was made in an address today to the inaugural trans-Tasman Forum between the Australian Plantation Industry and Paper Products Industry Council (A3P) and the New Zealand Forest Industries Council.

CSIRO Forestry and Forest Product's Chief, Dr Paul Cotterill and Forest Research's Chief Executive, Bryce Heard, said the joint venture arrangement would deliver many of the advantages associated with a full merger of both organisations.

"It will enhance the ability of both nations' forestry industries to develop world-class products and services by making the most of the R&D and science investment synergies existing between the operations of CSIRO and Forest Research," Dr Cotterill said.

"The prospect of being able to contact a single forestry R&D entity in our region has been welcomed by many of Forest Research and CSIRO's customers. In that context, the timing of the deal is regarded as crucial, particularly given the rapid rate at which the world forestry and forest products industry is consolidating through mergers and acquisitions," Mr Heard said.

"This partnership will create an organisation of real depth, breadth and scale for forestry and paper industries research and development. The goal is to strengthen capacity and increase technology transfer to both forest industry and pulp and paper clients. The joint venture's enhanced ability to build expert teams and tackle complex problems is an important factor in enabling the sector to remain globally competitive," Mr Heard adds.

CSIRO's Chief Executive Dr Geoff Garrett said the joint venture would enable both organisations to more seriously engage with both their regional and major international customers as a strategic R&D partner.

The advantages expected to accrue to the sector in both countries include: reduced costs of production and processing, higher-value product options, the creation of new jobs in regional centres and a marked improvement in the ability to compete against imported products and on export markets.

The unincorporated joint venture will integrate around half of CSIRO Forestry and Forest Product's activities with one third of Forest Research's activities creating four dedicated science units in the following areas:

- Pulp, paper and packaging - Optimising processes and products

- Wood and fibre quality - Linking quality to value

- Wood and wood products - Ensuring the place of wood in a modern market

- Tree improvement and germplasm - Breeding better forests for maximum returns

This will create a team of approximately 180 staff to be located at 5 sites in both Australia and New Zealand with expected revenues of NZ$30 million.

The deal follows a long history of collaboration between CSIRO and Forest Research. Most recently, both organisations became joint shareholders in the New Zealand Wood Quality Initiative Ltd, which aims to enhance the value of wood produced by radiata pine plantations throughout Australasia.

An international search is underway for a CEO for the joint venture and the operating title will be announced shortly.


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