Canfor is to purchase US lumber producer New South Companies in a deal which has suprised the North American forest products sector, according to industry newsletter Random Lengths.

The news has raised eyebrows because the companies’ respective chief executive officers have been prominent opponents in the softwood lumber dispute between Canada and the US.

New South CEO Mack Singleton is a former chairman of US lumber industry lobby group the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, while Canfor CEO David Emerson was a spokesperson for the industry in British Columbia.

The acquisition would give Canfor a manufacturing base in the US and lower its exposure to the strong Canadian dollar.

Industry rumours suggest other Canadian companies are looking to expand in America, with International Paper‘s timber assets reportedly a possible target.