Gunns set to release market update

Gunns set to release market update

TIMBER company Gunns is expected to make a key announcement about its future today.

A spokesman for the company yesterday confirmed it intended to release a market update before the ASX opened this morning.

The company, which has been in a trading halt for more than a month, accepted a $23 million payout from the state government last Wednesday but has postponed making an announcement to explain what it means for the company twice since then.

The delays have prompted speculation Gunns has more significant news to report.

Industry analyst Robert Eastment said it was impossible to know what direction the company would go.

"It's either going to be refinancing, they'll start building the pulp mill, or they've got a joint venture partner," he said.

"We just don't know."

Gunns shares were trading at 20.5¢ before the trading halt.

Mr Eastment said any announcement that indicated significant progress would lift the share price.

Meanwhile, Environment Tasmania said the commercial settlement with Gunns left Forestry Tasmania with no excuse to continue logging in 430,000 hectares of forests earmarked for immediate protection under the intergovernmental forest agreement.

Environment Tasmania director Phill Pullinger accused the government-owned business of playing a "deliberate game of delays".

"Given that their wood-supply obligations have now been halved, there's really no need to log within that area," Dr Pullinger said.

At its annual general meeting, the group passed a motion supporting the forests agreement and urged Forestry Tasmania be reformed.

Forestry Tasmania maintains 41 coupes will be needed before the end of the year, of which 12 are being harvested now.

An independent expert will be appointed to verify the government- owned business's claims.