Woodchipper’s murky mergers

Just what is going on lately? Woodchippers are hopping into the sack with other sectors of the logging industry all over the country.

Midways, the big export woodchipper near Geelong, is planning to merge with Forest Enterprises Australia (FEA), a plantation company operating out of Tasmania since 1985, which sells whole plantation logs and wood-chips overseas. Are they making sure they have two bob each way if native forests are finally protected or exhausted? FEA has about 40,000 ha of eucalyptus and softwood plantations.

Between the two companies they have woodchip plants at Geelong in Vic. and Bell Bay in Tas. But wait – the bed sharing is endless…

Integrated Tree Cropping (ITC) is a big plantation company which recently merged with Neville Smith Timber Industries (NSTI) in Heyfield. NSTI cuts down lots of Central Gippsland native forest for floor boards. Next door is Paperlinx in the Latrobe Valley, which takes all of their left over ‘forest waste’ for making Reflex paper. ITC is also a shareholder in FEA (see above) and the two companies share the same guy as director and chair. NSTI and FEA jointly operate the export log and woodchip facility at Bell Bay in Tasmania. Forestry Tasmania presented FEA with an annual ‘Wood Productivity Award’ last year. But back in 2001 ASIC charged FEA with ‘operation of an unregistered managed investment scheme.’ FEA is also planning to saw some of its hardwood plantation timber to be marketed as “Ecoash”.

Isn’t it fascinating. Will the next exciting episode see Gunns barge in and swallows them all up?

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