WestRock acquires paper and packaging producer KapStone

Atlanta-based WestRock Co. says it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire all outstanding shares of Illinois-based KapStone Paper and Packaging Corp.

Founded in 2005, KapStone produces and distributes containerboard, corrugated products and specialty papers, including liner and medium containerboard, kraft paper and saturating kraft. KapStone also owns Victory Packaging, a packaging distribution company with facilities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

According to its website, KapStone operates four paper mills: two in South Carolina, one in North Carolina and the former Longview Fibre mill in Washington state.

“KapStone is a great fit with WestRock,” says Steve Voorhees, CEO of WestRock. “[Its] complementary corrugated packaging and distribution operations will enhance WestRock’s ability to serve customers across our system, particularly in the western United States, and the addition of [its] specialty kraft paper products that we do not make enhances our differentiated portfolio of paper and packaging solutions.”

The news release from WestRock also points to KapStone’s ability to consume virgin fiber feedstocks at a high percentage. The transaction “increases [the] mix of virgin fiber-based paper in WestRock’s paper portfolio,” the release states. “KapStone’s 3 million tons of paper [are] made using 78 percent virgin fiber and 22 percent recovered fiber. This increases WestRock’s overall mix of virgin fiber from 65 percent to 67 percent.”

The acquisition cost is valued by the two companies at $4.9 billion, based on a $35-per-share purchase price and WestRock’s assumption of $1.36 billion in KapStone debt.

KapStone Chairman Roger Stone and its President and CEO Matt Kaplan agreed to vote their shares in support of the transaction, “subject to certain limitations.”

MerQbiz partners with C.H. Robinson

Manhattan Beach, California-based MerQbiz, an online trading platform for the recovered fiber market, has signed a partnership agreement with Minnesota-based third-party logistics firm C.H. Robinson to provide transportation services to users of the marketplace.

MerQbiz, a joint venture between German equipment firm Voith GmbH and Boston Consulting Group Digital Ventures, also based in Manhattan Beach, states the arrangement will allow buyers and sellers to contract truck transportation directly from the MerQbiz platform at the same time as placing an order. John Fox, CEO of MerQbiz, says the service will allow customers to receive pricing, arrange pickup days and times, receive a “guaranteed pickup” of the material and then track shipments.

Fox says C.H. Robinson already serves 2,600 customers in the paper and packaging sector and the paper industry makes up around 7 percent of C.H. Robinson’s business. “They have a huge amount of business in the paper and packaging sector.”

He adds that the partnership “can provide transportation services, which helps solve a customer’s pain point.”

The service is available for trucking throughout North America.