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Little Rock-based coffee company goes public

Westrock Coffee plans to use the funds from the business going public to accelerate refitting a facility in Conway.
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Westrock Coffee plans to use funds from the business going public to accelerate the retrofitting of a facility in Conway.

A Little Rock-based company is transitioning to a public-traded company to get investors in hopes of expanding business inside and outside of Arkansas.

Westrock Coffee, an ingredient provider that serves various retailers, convenience stores and restaurants, is merging with Riverview Acquisition Corporation and allowing the public to purchase shares of the company. Money raised will be used to help the company expand and take on larger projects, said Westrock Coffee CEO Scott Ford.

“Frankly we’re growing so fast we need to access the public markets because we’re growing faster than me and my friends can fund,” Ford said in an interview with KUAR News. “Going public allows you to give your, frankly, individual investors the opportunity to invest with you, but it gives the business the opportunity to bring that money in and to grow the overall business.”

According to a press release from Westrock Coffee, the transaction values the business at an enterprise value of approximately $1.086 billion at $10 per share and, assuming no redemptions by Riverview shareholders, will deliver approximately $500 million in gross cash proceeds to the combined company.

Ford said the first of the proceeds from this combination will go towards accelerating the retrofitting of a facility in Conway, which was purchased in December. He said the plant is going to become the largest roast to ready-to-drink facility of its type in the country.

“This fundraising that we are doing, this going public transaction, should free up a couple hundred million dollars for us to actually accelerate the investment in all of the equipment in that plant to fulfill its purpose,” said Ford.

He estimates the plant will eventually employ about 250 people, with many of the jobs being machine operator positions.

“It should be a wonderful job-creating and income-creating opportunity for Conway and central Arkansas,” Ford said.

He said the company hopes to have the Conway facility online near the summer of next year.

Westrock Coffee chose to transition by using a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

Riverview CEO R. Brad Martin, said in the press release, “When we launched Riverview Acquisition Corp., I stated that our objective was to find a merger partner in an attractive business with tangible growth prospects in which we could invest, a solid market position with competitive strengths, and an experienced, public company-ready management team that has demonstrated a commitment to maximizing value while operating with the highest level of integrity. I’m pleased that we are able to announce today that we have achieved that objective in our proposed merger with Westrock Coffee.”

Remington Miller was an intern at KUAR News as part of the George C. Douthit Endowed Scholarship program. She later worked as a reporter and editor for the station.