Bloomberg News

Copec Falls Most in Four Weeks as Chile Fire Destroys Plant

January 02, 2012

(Updates with closing stock prices in second paragraph.)

Jan. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Empresas Copec SA, Chile’s biggest publicly traded company by sales, fell the most in a month after a fire destroyed one of its plywood plants and halted operations at pulp-producing and milling operations.

The company controlled by Chile’s Angelini family slid 1.8 percent, the most since Dec. 5, to 6,815.7 pesos at the close.

Wildfires whipped up by high winds in southern Chile destroyed at least 40 homes and killed one person in the Bio Bio region and forced the closure of a Patagonian national park. Copec evacuated 250 people from the Nueva Aldea plywood plant before the fire hit and suspended operations at pulp and milling plants at the same complex as a precaution, its Celulosa Arauco & Constitucion SA unit wrote in a regulatory filing.

“Arauco is evaluating damage from the fire and isn’t in a position yet to quantify the effect on results,” the company wrote, estimating that 4,000 hectares (9,880 acres) of plantations were affected. Arauco has insurance, it said.

The Bio Bio blazes come as firefighters struggle to bring a separate outbreak of wildfires under control in the Torres del Paine national park further south in Patagonia. Chile had 48 fires nationwide as of yesterday, of which 20 are under control, President Sebastian Pinera said, vowing to create a new office to coordinate firefighting efforts.

“We are facing an extremely vulnerable situation,” Pinera said today in a speech transmitted by Radio ADN. “Three regions are under red alert. In addition we have eight regions with different types of fire alerts. This undoubtedly puts enormous pressure on resources.”

Charges Filed

Authorities filed charges against Rotem Singer, a 23-year- old Israeli tourist, in connection with the Torres del Paine blaze. The government plans to start reopening the park on Jan. 4, Pinera said.

Fires in the Concepcion and Nuble provinces of Bio Bio had consumed 10,000 hectares, Pinera said. Almost 500 people, six planes and 10 helicopters had been deployed to fight those fires, which started Dec. 31, according to the government’s emergency service.

Forestry products accounted for 67 percent of Copec’s third-quarter net income, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

--Editors: James Attwood, Philip Sanders

To contact the reporters on this story: Eduardo Thomson in Santiago at ethomson1@bloomberg.net; Randall Woods in Santiago at rwoods13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net


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