May 16, 2016 / 9:32 PM / 2 years ago

Chile forestry firm Masisa eyes expansion in Mexico, Argentina

SANTIAGO, May 16 (Reuters) - Chilean forestry group Masisa , one of Latin America’s largest wood panel manufacturers, is strengthening its business in Mexico, and may be willing to invest more in Argentina, the company’s president said on Monday.

The company expects to start up a new plant in Durango, Mexico, with an annual production of 240,000 cubic meters in a month’s time, Masisa President Roberto Salas told Reuters on the sidelines of a business forum in Santiago.

“Mexico is our obsession now,” Salas said. “It’s the fundamental focus of the company’s results in the coming years.”

He added that the company was also monitoring developments in Argentina, where recently elected President Mauricio Macri has initiated a string of business-friendly reforms and Masisa owns 47,639 hectares (117,719 acres) of forest and one plant.

“We must still be cautious (on investment). We’re going to wait until the end of the year to see how things are going ... we would be willing to increase investments once we see the (economic reform) process taking shape.”

Masisa, headquartered in Santiago, also has operations in Chile, Venezuela, and Brazil, as well as a distribution network throughout Latin America.

In economically moribund Venezuela and Brazil, which represent nearly 20 percent of the company’s income, Salas said the company was looking more to the medium and long term, but was confident of eventual economic recovery in those countries. (Reporting by Antonio de la Jara; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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