North Pacific, an employee-owned, $1 billion-plus building material distributor based in Portland, Ore., announced today it has signed a letter of intent to be acquired by an unnamed private equity firm.

"After a thorough review of our strategic alternatives, the company believes the proposed the proposed acquisition better positions North Pacific as a leading wholesale distributor within North America," Jay Ross, North Pacific's CEO and president, said in a statement. "The current market conditions present an exceptional opportunity to strengthen and grow our Company, benefiting our employees, our customers and our suppliers."

The deal is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2009 and is subject to completion of a definitive agreement and several legal consents, North Pacific's statement said. It didn't describe the buyer other than to called it "a nationally recognized private equity firm."

On its website, North Pacific describes itself as a 61-year-old wholesale distributor of building materials, industrial and hardwood products, and other specialty products. It handles various types of lumber, telephone poles, pilings, logs, and composite products out of more than 50 locations.