To prepare for an imminent buyout, major paper company Bowater was divesting timberland assets. They were concerned they weren’t getting fair compensation for timberland parcels with development potential. And they needed someone with experience to sort this out.

The company had no in-house real-estate experience, and the project landed in the lap of the outgoing CEO as a swan-song project. 


Cardinal identified higher-and best-use properties in Bowater’s portfolio packaged the assets for developers, and executed a national marketing effort.


Bowater excelled at selling timberlands, but executives had left money on the table at times. When selling land they thought would be used as timberlands, sometimes that land got flipped to a developer. 

Using the Cardinal Due Diligence 360™ checklist, Cardinal packaged complex parcels in an easy-to-understand national brokerage campaign. 

For one parcel in Tennessee, Bowater owned only the surface rights, and an underground coal fire had been burning there for years. Squatters who lived on the property had a claim which needed to be disputed, and environmental advocates had targeted the property to stop development along the Cumberland Plateau. Meanwhile, as a result of the CMBS crisis, the US economy was grinding to a halt.

Cardinal successfully sold all tracts, getting more than twice the appraised value for one parcel. 

Bifurcated mineral and surface rights Two tracts had multiple owners that had to be negotiated with
Material environmental impacts One parcel had an active coal-burning fire
Ecological sensitivity Some people opposed the sale as it involved land sacred to American indigenous people.

Project Highlights

$24 million
A residential developer bought one tract for eight times the appraised value of the timber

Packaged rights

Through negotiation with two owners, Cardinal packaged surface and mineral rights and sold them to a Wyoming-based developer

National reach

Cardinal’s network identified Resource Land Holdings, a Colorado-based land opportunity fund, which closed on one tract
Your process gave us confidence that we were making the right decision when we accepted the offer.
Bill Bartle, Bowater, Inc.
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