The 28th annual PwC Global Forest & Paper Industry Conference, with a focus on From innovation to action brought together 350 CEOs, senior executives, customers, suppliers, financial analysts, government representatives and other stakeholders in Vancouver, Canada on May 6, 2015. Conference speakers and panellists looked at a number of important factors affecting the forest and paper industry, providing insight on everything from global megatrends and the role that forestry can play in a changing world, to discussions on product innovation and opportunities for the forestry sector engage with stakeholders in new ways online.
The conference opened with a presentation on global megatrends by Malcolm Preston, PwC’s Global Sustainability Leader from London, UK. Malcolm presented the impact of environmental issues such as water shortages and climate change and the growing recognition of the need for businesses to respond to this.
The forestry sector has an important role to play in combating these problems, specifically problems associated with accelerated rate of deforestation in parts of the world, restoration of degraded forests and sustainable forest development.
The first discussion panel of the day discussed financial performance of the forest and paper industry as well as national, regional and global macroeconomic factors expected to influence the industry. Wells Fargo Economist Tim Quinlan focused on global macroeconomic trends, ERA Forest Products Research analyst Kevin Mason reviewed the effects of the consolidation that has occurred in three segments of the forest products industry and Hawkins Wright’s Roger Wright focused on pulp and paper markets, with an emphasis on China. The panel covered a wide range of topics from the outlook for the US economy and its impact on the Canadian forestry sector, consolidation in forest industry, and changes brought by innovations and new products were discussed. The panel provided insight into global pulp and paper demand and production commenting that future demand will be difficult to predict on past trends. The world is changing fast; with demand in Europe falling, and demand in China difficult to estimate, the panel concluded that global demographic changes and new technologies will continue to play an important role in paper and board consumption worldwide.
Delegates were treated to a fascinating discussion about innovation in forestry products by three prominent leaders in the field who offered their vision of impacts of innovation on markets and society as a whole. Dr. Guido Wimmers from the University of Northern British Columbia discussed the latest trends in building large wood structures; Thomas Riegler, CFO of Lenzing Group spoke about the versatility of products that can be produced from viscose cellulose fibres; and René Goguen of CelluForce Inc highlighted the innovation path, achievements, challenges and learnings from the development of a nanocrystaline cellulose manufacturing facility. The panel message was clear: there is a broad range of new exciting products being made from forest fibre although widespread adoption remains the major goal.
A panel comprised Kathy Abusow, CEO of the Sustainable Forest Initiative, François Dufresne, CEO of the Forest Stewardship Council Canada and Tom Martin, CEO of the American Forest Foundation presented insights into the significance of forest certification, future challenges, opportunities and development of their organizations. The panel discussed the positive impact of forest certifications on conservation research, aboriginal rights, biodiversity and natural resources.
The Anatomy of a Deal panel speakers presented their unique perspective on the three different phases related to mergers and acquisitions in the forest and paper industry. PwC’s Jason Boyer provided an overview of global forest and paper M&A in 2014 and how global megatrends will shape future M&A activity. Carter Holt Harvey Pulp and Paper CEO Dr. Jon Ryder presented a case study of the first phase, “thinking of a deal” using an example of a New Zealand softwood pulpwood from the perspective of a potential buyer. West Fraser CFO Larry Hughes discussed “doing the deal” and stressed the importance of fairness. KapStone President Randy Nebel focussed his presentation on factors important to “delivering the deal” as well as challenges facing future integration and the need for careful attention and compromise in combining the two cultures.
Closing the 2015 conference was a panel of CEO’s that included Duncan Davies, President and CEO of Interfor, Kevin Edgson, President and CEO of EACOM Timber Corporation, Clemens Willée, CEO of Mondi Europe and International, and Tom Lindquist President and COO of Plum Creek Timber Company. The CEO’s offered unique insight into their organizations and markets for their products, touched on current hot topics such as USA Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement, fibre security, replacement of an aging workforce, as well as discussing the strategies available to the Forestry Industry to rebrand its image as a leading sustainable sector.
Save the date for the 29th Annual PwC Global Forest & Paper Industry Conference taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on May 4, 2016 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.
To view presentations from the conference, please click on each panel above.