AbitibiBowater shares audio recording of Richard Garneau’s address at annual meeting

After closing its doors to the media this morning, AbitibiBowater has released an audio recording of President and CEO Richard Garneau‘s address to the annual meeting today, without Garneau’s corresponding powerpoint presentation.

Items of note from Garneau’s bilingual address:

Debt burden reduced by 88% – from $6.8 billion in 2007 when the companies merged, down to $850 million at the time of emergence from creditor protection

A further $185 million will be eliminated from the debt burden through the sale of the companies hydro assets in Ontario, to be completed by the end of the second quarter

Financial losses shared by various stakeholders as a result of the creditor protection filing are about $8 billion

The company’s former shareholders lost some $2 billion in value, as compared to the share valuation at the time of the merger

Unsecured creditors and suppliers lost about $6 billion

Active employees will be impacted by $95 million salary cuts and other reductions – mostly achieved through proactive negotiations with union leaders

Going forward, AbitibiBowater will be mindful of the lessons learned throughout restructuring

Company will benefit & thrive by engaging its workforce, by acting with integrity, by setting goals, and by measuring progress, and by responding faster and better to market changes

Canadian operations have significant challenges, especially in Quebec, to be competitive in North America and globally.

Canadian mills are at a disadvantage due to the strong Canadian dollar, high labour costs, and fibre costs

On average, the cost of wood delivered to the mill in Quebec is 91% higher than to the company’s U.S. mill

Labour costs per hour worked are 5% higher in Ontario, and 7% higher in Quebec, compared to labour costs at the company’s U.S. operation because of the strong Canadian dollar

Company is committed to investing and improving its Canadian operations , but only where they have the support of provincial and regional governments, employees, as well as where there is a clear business case.

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