Weyerhaeuser’s chief executive Steven Rogel said the company faces the worst industry conditions in 25 years, just days after it agreed to a merger deal with Willamette Industries.

Mr Rogel was giving his reaction to Weyerhaeuser’s fourth quarter results which showed a net loss of US$15m, due to after-tax charges of US$20m for closing three wood product plants. The loss compares with earnings of US$194m in the same period of 2000.

Sales were US$3.4bn, a 16% decrease from the US$4bn earned in the same period last year. For the whole year ending December 30, 2001, net earnings were US$354m, compared with US$840m in 2000.

Weyerhaeuser has now signed a definitive agreement to buy Willamette for US$6.1bn. The combined company would be the world’s second biggest timber company after Georgia-Pacific.