FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (

TheStreet

) --

Weyerhaeuser

(WY) - Get Report

plans to convert to a real estate investment trust, a structure the company says would "best support" its strategic direction.

"Our company will be enhanced by the REIT structure," said Dan Fulton, president and CEO, in a statement Tuesday. "This conversion will position us to be more competitive in our timberlands business. "

Weyerhaeuser's board hasn't set a date for the conversion but the earliest and most likely date is next year, the company said. The conversion depends on, among other factors, the state of the economic recovery and changes in tax policy.

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If it does convert to a REIT structure, Weyerhaeuser must issue a special, taxable dividend to stockholders of its undistributed earnings and profits. As of the beginning of 2010, Weyerhaeuser expects earnings and profits to total just under $6 billion.

Weyerhaeuser said it intends to pay a significant portion of the dividend in stock.

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-- Reported by Joseph Woelfel in New York.

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