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Canadian firm to take majority stake in Silver Mt. owner

PORTLAND, Ore. – A Canadian investment firm plans to buy a majority stake in Oregon-based door and window manufacturer Jeld-Wen Inc. after initially agreeing to a minority interest in one of the state’s largest companies.

Jeld-Wen owns Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg. The resort includes a ski operation, nine-hole golf course, condos and indoor waterpark.

Onex Corp., of Toronto, will keep Jeld-Wen’s headquarters in Klamath Falls and retain CEO Rod Wendt in the $864 million deal, The Oregonian reported today.

Onex will control at least 58 percent of Jeld-Wen, half its board seats, and will appoint a new president: Philip Orsino, Onex’s building products industrial partner.

The deal supersedes a previous arrangement in May, when Onex announced plans to pay $475 million for a 39 percent stake in privately held Jeld-Wen.

Instead, Onex will pay $675 million for the majority stake. It will also issue a $189 million loan to be paid off within 18 months by the sale of unspecified “noncore” Jeld-Wen assets; failing that, the loan converts to stock.

The collapse of the U.S. housing market hammered Jeld-Wen. Business research site Hoover’s reports that sales fell 26 percent between 2007 and 2009, to $2.5 billion. Jeld-Wen said revenue totaled $3 billion last year.

Jeld-Wen had planned on refinancing some outstanding debt, said company communications director Teri Cline, but held off due to continued volatility in the bond market.

Eventually, Jeld-Wen and Onex decided that selling more of the company made better sense than waiting out the bond market.

“It lessens the amount that we need to go sell in private placement of bonds,” Cline said.

Existing shareholders, including the trust of Jeld-Wen co-founder Richard Wendt and family members, will retain a minority stake. Rod Wendt is the son of Richard Wendt, who died a year ago at the age of 79.

“They’re very excited about the deal,” Cline said. “They wanted to do what was best for the long-term vision of the company.”

Jeld-Wen employs about 20,000 workers, including 1,200 in Klamath County, according to Trey Senn, director of the Klamath County Economic Development Association.

The company last winter sold three central Oregon resorts to a partnership led by Northview Hotel Group of Westport, Conn. The properties were Eagle Crest near Redmond, Brasada Ranch in Powell Butte near Bend, and the Running Y in Klamath Falls. Also sold was Ridgewater Properties, adjacent to the Running Y.