UPDATE 1-Norbord upbeat on Europe but sees no uptick in prices for now

Fri Aug 8, 2014 12:17pm EDT
 
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By Ashutosh Pandey and Sneha Banerjee

Aug 8 (Reuters) - Canadian wood panel maker Norbord Inc sees little chance of an improvement in prices for its main product in Europe this year as the industry diverts production that formerly went to Russia and Ukraine to markets such Germany and the UK.

Norbord, which makes wood-based panels known as oriented strand board (OSB), has been focusing on Europe to compensate for a weak house-building market in North America.

OSB, consisting of strands or chips of wood bonded together with a synthetic resin, is cheaper than plywood and is commonly used for flooring and roofs and as wall sheathing.

Norbord Chief Executive Peter Wijnbergen said that much of the OSB that Russia had been importing had been passing through ports in Ukraine, where there has been heavy fighting between government troops and separatist rebels.

The crisis means OSB meant for Russia and Ukraine is now being diverted to Western Europe, "holding back the OSB price increases that we have anticipated," Wijnbergen said.

"We anticipate ... the second half will be similar to first half from pricing perspective in Europe," Wijnbergen said in an interview.

Norbord - which has three plants in the UK and one in Belgium - said last month that European OSB prices fell about 1.5 percent in the second quarter compared with a year earlier.   Continued...