WestRock Signs Definitive Agreement to Acquire KapStone for $35 per Share

WestRock Signs Definitive Agreement to Acquire KapStone for $35 per Share 

WestRock Co., Atlanta, Ga., USA, and KapStone Paper and Packaging Corp., Northbrook, Ill., this past Monday (Jan. 29, 2018) announced the signing of a definitive agreement, pursuant to which WestRock will acquire all of the outstanding shares of KapStone for $35.00 per share and will assume approximately $1.36 billion in net debt, for a total enterprise value of approximately $4.9 billion.
Based on KapStone’s annualized EBITDA performance in the second half of its fiscal 2017, WestRock estimates the EV/EBITDA multiples to be under 10 times before and 7 times after the full run rate of expected cost synergies and performance improvements. Upon closing, the acquisition is expected to be immediately accretive to WestRock’s adjusted earnings and cash flow, inclusive of purchase accounting adjustments. 

KapStone stockholders will have the option to receive $35.00 per share in cash, or to elect to receive 0.4981 WestRock shares per KapStone share, with elections of stock consideration capped at 25% of the outstanding KapStone shares but no limit on the number of KapStone shares that can receive cash consideration. KapStone Chairman Roger Stone and president and CEO Matt Kaplan have entered into voting agreements, pursuant to which they have agreed to vote their shares in support of the transaction, subject to certain limitations.

WestRock will finance the cash consideration through the issuance of new debt under a fully committed financing package. WestRock expects to refinance existing KapStone debt assumed as part of the transaction upon closing. WestRock’s expected leverage ratio at the closing of the transaction will be greater than 3.00x, and WestRock expects to return to its stated leverage ratio target of 2.25x to 2.50x by the end of fiscal 2019. The transaction is not conditional on financing.

Founded in 2005, KapStone is a producer and distributor of containerboard, corrugated products, and specialty papers, including liner and medium containerboard, kraft papers, and saturating kraft. KapStone also owns Victory Packaging, a packaging solutions distribution company with facilities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. KapStone announced preliminary, unaudited adjusted EBITDA of $130 to $135 million for its fourth quarter 2017.

"KapStone is a great fit with WestRock. Their complementary corrugated packaging and distribution operations will enhance WestRock’s ability to serve customers across our system, particularly in the western U,.S., and the addition of their specialty kraft paper products that we do not make enhances our differentiated portfolio of paper and packaging solutions," said Steve Voorhees, CEO of WestRock. "Importantly, KapStone and WestRock share the same dedication to serving customers. We look forward to welcoming the KapStone team members to WestRock and working with them to help make WestRock an even better company." 

"The agreement to combine with WestRock is a testament to the tremendous company we have built and the hard work and accomplishments of the KapStone team," said Kaplan. "The transaction enables us to deliver an immediate and compelling cash premium to our shareholders. As we began to understand WestRock’s principles, we realized how closely aligned our cultures are. As a result, we believe strongly that this will be beneficial to both our employees and customers."

The transaction significantly enhances WestRock’s scale and scope in the market and accelerates WestRock’s ability to achieve its strategic goals and enhance its value proposition as the premier partner and provider of innovative, winning solutions to its customers:

  • Creates opportunity for approximately $200 million in cost synergies and performance improvements.The transaction is expected to generate annual run-rate cost synergies and performance improvements of approximately $200 million by the end of fiscal 2021 that WestRock expects will be captured through the integration of the KapStone operations into WestRock’s corrugated packaging system. The categories of benefits include process and capital improvements at mill and box plant locations, converting and network optimization, procurement and administrative efficiencies. The acquisition will enable WestRock to supply additional corrugated packaging to Victory Packaging. The acquisition will accelerate WestRock’s plans to improve margins in its North American corrugated packaging business.  
  • Strengthens WestRock’s presence on the West Coast. The addition of KapStone’s West Coast facilities improves WestRock’s ability to serve customers in this important area and reduce costs across its supply chain. In addition, this expansion opens new opportunities for WestRock to sell the full suite of its product portfolio to KapStone’s current customers in this region. 
  • Broadens WestRock’s differentiated paper and packaging solutions portfolio with the addition of attractive paper grades and distribution capabilities. The addition of KapStone’s complementary specialty kraft paper offerings that WestRock does not offer today enables WestRock to provide a broader product portfolio to existing customers, as well as provides new opportunities to sell WestRock’s enterprise-wide offerings to KapStone’s customers. 
  • Increases mix of virgin fiber based paper in WestRock’s paper portfolio. KapStone’s 3 million tons of paper is made using 78% virgin fiber and 22% recovered fiber. This increases WestRock’s overall mix of virgin fiber from 65% to 67%. 

The transaction is subject to a number of customary closing conditions, including a vote by KapStone’s stockholders, and is expected to close during the quarter ending Sept. 30, 2018. Upon completion of the transaction, KapStone will be integrated into WestRock’s Corrugated Packaging segment.

Lazard served as lead investment bank and financial advisor to WestRock in the transaction and provided its board of directors with a fairness opinion. Wells Fargo provided the committed financing for the transaction and also acted as WestRock’s financial advisor. Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP acted as legal advisor to WestRock. 

Rothschild & Co. and Moelis & Company LLC served as financial advisors to KapStone in the transaction. Sidley Austin acted as legal advisor to KapStone. 

WestRock partners with its customers to provide differentiated paper and packaging solutions that help them win in the marketplace. WestRock’s 45,000 team members support customers around the world from more than 300 operating and business locations spanning North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. More information about WestRock is available online.

KapStone is a producer of containerboard, unbleached kraft paper, and corrugated products, and a provider of packaging and logistics solutions.  The company operates four paper mills, 22 converting plants, and more than 65 warehouses and distribution centers located in North America. The business employs approximately 6,200 people.

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