Simmons First National Corp. filed notice with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it would consolidate its seven subsidiary banks into a single banking organization. The consolidation of charters will occur in two phases, the bank said.
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A third, and likely final, wave of layoffs at Little Rock-based Acxiom Corp. began on Wednesday as the database marketer continued its push to realign its work force to meet changing industry demands. Acxiom indicated in November 2013 it would cut its overall labor force by March in an effort to save $20 million to $30 million annually. Approximately 200 workers nationwide were part of the latest round of layoffs with around 100 in Arkansas.
Revenues grew modestly, but profits took a tumble as Walmart reported its fourth-quarter and full-year financials. The Bentonville-based retail giant reported fourth-quarter net income of $4.43 billion on sales of $128.8 billion, an increase of 1.4 percent over last year. The quarter included the negative impact of about $1.8 billion from currency exchange rate fluctuations. Last year Walmart posted fourth-quarter profits of $5.86 billion on revenue of $127.77 billion.
USA Truck recorded a fourth-quarter loss of $4.6 million, including one-time charges of $1.5 million related to a hostile takeover bid, on revenue of $141.4 million. One year ago, USA Truck posted a $3.2 million loss on revenue of $134.7 million. For the full year, USA Truck saw its net loss shrink to $9.1 million from $17.6 million in 2012 on growing revenues of $555 million, up from $512.4 million one year ago.
The University of Arkansas Walton College of Business inducted four new members in the state’s Business Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees include advertising executive James Faulkner, international businessman Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, farmer Stanley Reed and poultry magnate Mark Simmons.
Little Rock-based Bank of the Ozarks announced Thursday that it has entered into a definitive agreement and plan of merger with Summit Bancorp Inc. and its wholly-owned bank subsidiary Summit Bank. Bank of the Ozarks will acquire the Arkadelphia-based bank for $216 million.
Simmons First National Corporation’s $53.6 million buyout of Little Rock-based Metropolitan took a toll on fourth-quarter and year-to-date net income. The Pine Bluff-based bank holding company reported fourth quarter net income of $3.8 million, down from $8 million in the previous year’s fourth quarter. Simmons said core earnings were $7.7 million when one-time expenses were factored out.
The acquisition of Metropolitan National Bank by Pine Bluff-based Simmons First led to expected bank branch closings, which were made public by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency this week.
Acxiom Corp. began a round of layoffs this week that corporate leaders suggested would be forthcoming when they last reported earnings. Roughly 50 workers, some in middle management positions, are part of this round of layoffs, although less than half are in Arkansas.
Gov. Mike Beebe and a number of other Arkansas elected officials and candidates called on Lt. Gov. Mark Darr to resign after he was fined $11,000 for ethics violations. A review of Darr’s office expenses by legislative auditors also turned up discrepancies and improper payments for personal use. Darr said he had no plans to resign.
Arkansas’ jobless rate remained unchanged from October to November at 7.5 percent. The number is well above one year ago when the state unemployment rate stood at 7.2 percent. U.S. unemployment in November was 7 percent.
The state’s two largest electric utilities urged customers to be prepared for a winter storm that blanketed many parts of Arkansas with ice, while warning that outages in some parts of the state could last up to seven days.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced that its board of directors elected company veteran Doug McMillon, 47, to succeed Mike Duke, 63, as president and chief executive officer, effective Feb. 1, 2014. McMillon also was elected to the company’s board of directors, effective immediately.
Tyson Foods closed its fiscal year on a strong note as it posted record sales and earnings, while announcing several leadership changes in its management structure. The Springdale-based meat company recorded fourth-quarter earnings of $261 million on sales of $8.89 billion. One year ago, Tyson Foods posted net income of $185 million on revenue of $8.32 billion.
The three Pulaski County school districts will receive three years’ worth of desegregation payments, plus another year of equal payments for academic facilities only, under an agreement reached between Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office and the school districts, McDaniel told a legislative panel Thursday. McDaniel told the Joint Subcommittee on Desegregation Litigation Oversight that the agreement has not been finalized. However, he did express confidence that the districts’ school boards would agree to the deal.
A challenge to Big River Steel’s air quality permit by Nucor Steel will delay or could trip up the $1.1 billion superproject planned for northeastern Arkansas, but state officials expressed confidence that the steel mill will go forward.
Metropolitan National Bank announced a third quarter profit of $1.59 million. For the first three quarters of 2013, the Little Rock-based bank has posted $3.53 million in net income. In September, Metropolitan was acquired by Pine Bluff-based Simmons First for $53.6 million. Metropolitan’s parent company, Rogers Bancshares, had filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year following the death of its principal owner Doyle Rogers. The merger is expected to close at the end of December 2013 and the two banks will consolidate during the first quarter of 2014.
The Arkansas Poll, conducted by the University of Arkansas, shows voter attitudes are more pessimistic than a year ago. When asked if the economy was heading in the right direction or wrong direction, 63 percent of voters said it was heading in the right direction versus 20 percent who indicated the economy was off-track. Last year, 73 percent of voters said the economy was heading in the right direction, while 17 percent said it was heading in the wrong direction. The poll was conducted during the government shutdown.
Landing at the Conway airport will soon take on a new meaning as Alabama-based Jim Wilson and Associates and the Conway Development Corp. announced a new $90 million upscale regional shopping center, Central Landing. On Thursday, Will Wilson, CEO of Jim Wilson and Associates, announced the 150-acre project that will take the soon-to-be-decommissioned airport property and redevelop it to include restaurant, retail, medical, office and multi-family use spaces. Wilson also said that plans could include two hotels and space available for economic development projects being recruited to Conway.
The federal government shutdown had a major impact on Arkansas’ work force. From the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health, hundreds of state workers were furloughed as federal funding was put on hold. About 350 Little Rock Air Force Base civilians were placed on furlough, while the Arkansas National Guard halted certain operations impacting up to 10,000 guard members.