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Westrock Coffee Co. is expanding its North Little Rock roasting and packaging plant, the company said Wednesday.

Westrock is expanding to meet customer demand, including orders from Walmart Inc. for coffee sold under Walmart's Great Value and Sam's Club Member's Mark brands.

"This is an exciting time for Westrock Coffee and marks a huge milestone for the company," said Scott Ford, co-founder and chief executive officer, in remarks to reporters.

Because of the "unprecedented" growth, Ford said Westrock plans to almost double its Arkansas staff to 130 by hiring more than 60 full-time employees.

The plant roasts, grinds, packages and delivers private-label coffee for customers in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

The expansion has support from the governor's office, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Pulaski County, North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith and First Security Bank, a news release said.

Little Rock-based Westrock sources coffee from partners in the United Kingdom and small farms in Africa.

-- Nathan Owens

Oil, gas firm nears Canadian asset sale

CALGARY, Alberta -- Devon Energy said it is selling nearly all of its assets in Canada to Canadian Natural Resources for $2.8 billion.

The Oklahoma City-based oil and gas company included in the S&P 500 put its Canadian assets up for sale in February in a plan to focus on growth from wells drilled in U.S. shale fields.

The deal is expected to close June 27.

Devon officials say proceeds from the sale will help reduce the company's debt.

Officials with Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources said Devon's "high-quality" assets will provide further balance to their production profile.

Devon's exit from Canada follows recent asset sales there by foreign companies including El Dorado-based Murphy Oil Corp., Norway's Statoil, France's Total SA, and Houston-based ConocoPhillips.

-- The Associated Press

Arkansas Index falls 4.04, closes at 395

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed at 395 on Wednesday, down 4.04.

"Overnight weakness in foreign markets and falling U.S. Treasury yields triggered a flight to safety by investors," said Leon Lants, managing director with Stephens Inc. in Little Rock. "The S&P 500 index found support just above its 200-day moving average following an afternoon bounce."

Shares of Tyson Foods fell 5%. Simmons First shares rose 1.5%.

The index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.

Business on 05/30/2019

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