OMAHA, NEB. and ST. LOUIS — White River Soy Processing, LLC has acquired the Creston, Iowa-based soy processing plant of Benson Hill, Inc. for $72 million. The facility employs 55 and is equipped to produce soy meal and oil, as well as food grade soy white flake, flour and grits, Benson Hill said.

The Creston plant is the second facility White River has acquired from Benson Hill in the past four months. At the end of October 2023, White River bought Benson Hill’s soybean processing plant in Seymour, Ind., for about $36 million.

“Today’s acquisition displays White River’s commitment to our company’s mission to supply better nutritional outcomes to our customers, as well as meet the growing need for high-quality soy protein products,” said Gordon Glade, co-founder of White River. “The purchase of the Creston facility allows us to expand what we started at the Seymour, Indiana, facility while also expanding our product offerings into the food grade market.”

Deanie Elsner, chief executive officer of Benson Hill, said the divestiture supports the company’s strategic plan to reshape its organization and transition to an asset-light business model with an expanded focus on animal feed markets.

“More importantly, exiting our ownership and operation of soy processing assets strengthens our balance sheet with lower capital and operating expenditures, while allowing us to thoughtfully allocate resources to leverage our core competencies as a technology-enabled, seed innovation company,” Elsner said. “We know WRSP leadership well and have confidence that they will operate the facility with the highest industry standards and a customer-centric approach. We sincerely appreciate the hard work of the Creston employees as they increased throughput at the facility to unprecedented levels. We thank them for their contributions to Benson Hill.”

In addition to the divestiture of the soy processing plant, Benson Hill announced the appointment of Susan Keefe to chief financial officer, effective March 29. She will succeed Dean Freeman, who is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.

Keefe most recently was CFO of GreenLight Biosciences, Inc. from May 2019 to September 2023. Earlier, she was a financial consultant with Danforth Advisors. She also has worked in finance roles at Aushon BioSystems, SeraCare Life Sciences, Procter & Gamble, Lante Corp. and PwC.

“Susan brings a depth of financial acumen to Benson Hill that will be crucial in reshaping the organization during our transition to an asset-light partnership model,” Elsner said. “Having an executive with Susan’s diverse experience will prove invaluable as we seek to improve our financial profile and unlock the full value of our differentiated and advantaged genetics. She’s uniquely capable for the next leg of our journey, and I look forward to working with her to deliver value to Benson Hill shareholders.”

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