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High Level Talks, And a Few What Ifs
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It's rare to find so many pulp and paper executives at one location, more-or-less at the same time.

This week in New York, more than two dozen executives–-CEOs, COOs, CFOs, chairmen, presidents, co-presidents, and senior VPs–-will make presentations at the UBS Global Paper & Forest Products Conference. The topic for discussion is "Can the industry turn restructuring into improved profitability?"

Each company scheduled to present at the conference* has been allotted 45 minutes to talk about what they are doing within the context of the restructuring and improving profitability theme. An "expert" panel of portfolio manager and analysts will also be on hand to augment questions from the audience. Webcasts of the presentations will be available.

With such a wealth of high level executives participating, it's intriguing to speculate what might be accomplished with a slight change of mission. Instead of individual companies making presentations, what if the executives met for a summit. What if, without violating antitrust restrictions, these executives could meet as a body and really address the question of restructuring and profitability for the industry as a whole, and for its various segments? What if, beyond being competitors, they could then focus their combined management experience and expertise on solving other industry related problems?

Finding ways to improve the overall financial health of the industry would make it more attractive to investors and would benefit individual companies, as well. To some extent, that may happen this week. But, what if… ?

*The list of companies scheduled to present at the UBS conference includes Abitibi-Consolidated, Aracruz Celulose, Boise Cascade, Bowater, Buckeye Technologies, Caraustar Industries, Cascades, Domtar, Holmen, International Paper, Louisiana-Pacific, Madison Dearborn Partners, MeadWestvaco, Norske Skog, Plum Creek, Smurfit-Stone Container, Stora Enso, Temple-Inland, UPM-Kymmene, and Weyerhaeuser.

Although missing from the lineup of presenters at the UBS conference, Kimberly Clark, PActive, and Procter & Gamble are a few of the participants scheduled this week at Bank of America's 36th Annual Investment Conference in San Francisco. The range of companies participating in the Bank of America conference is more diverse, though many have close ties with the pulp and paper industry. Among those are Air Products and Chemicals, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Praxair, and others.


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