Simmons First to consolidate bank charters


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.

“The elimination of the separate bank charters will increase the company’s efficiency and assist the company in more effectively meeting the increased regulatory burden currently facing banking institutions,” said George A. Makris Jr., chairman and CEO. “There are many operational functions that we currently perform separately for each of our seven banks. After the consolidation, these tasks will only need to be performed once.”

Union Pacific CEO weights in on economy

The CEO of Union Pacific Corp., the railroad transportation giant, told a Little Rock audience that he sees positive signs in the U.S. economy, particularly in the agricultural, chemical and auto business sectors. John J. “Jack” Koraleski, who has served as CEO since 2012, told the Arkansas Economic Development Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the state’s economic development agency, that early trends in his transportation portfolio are off to a good start in 2014. He also cited upticks in business related to energy and manufacturing as a boost for stronger revenues in the coming year.

Baptist Health Systems names new CEO

Russ Harrington, the long-time CEO of Little Rock-based Baptist Health System, will retire July 1 and be succeeded by Troy Wells, who currently holds the title of senior vice president of administrative services for the health care organization. Baptist Health made the announcement on Monday. Harrington will retire after 40 years of service to the company.

Mountain Valley Water acquired by investment group

Mountain Valley Water Company of Hot Springs has been acquired by a group of investors with Great Range Capital. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Great Range Capital is a private equity firm based in Kansas City. Mountain Valley is the oldest continuously operated bottled water company in the U.S. and has been in business since 1871.

American Energy Transport acquires Stampede Transportation

Stampede Transportation LLC, a Little Rock-based bulk fuel transportation and logistics company founded in 1999, is merging with American Energy Transport LLC, a fuel transportation provider based in Dallas, Texas. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

February state revenues miss forecast

February’s net revenues missed the mark for the state of Arkansas as sales taxes declined, individual income tax refunds grew and a timing issue affected payroll collections.

The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration reported net available general revenues for the month of $212.2 million, 1 percent above last year, but 2.2 percent below forecast. On a year-to-date basis, net available general revenues stood at $3.2 billion, up 1.7 percent above last year’s levels and 1.1 percent above forecast.

Arkansas House passes private option, heads to governor for signature

On a fifth and final effort, the Arkansas House of Representatives passed a funding measure for the private option health insurance program. The bill passed the House by a 76-24 margin. Reps. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, Les Carnine, R- Rogers, and Mary Lou Slinkard , R-Gravette, all voted yes for the first time in the 2014 fiscal session.

Shoffner trial begins

The federal trial of former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner began on Wednesday. Shoffner has been charged with six counts of extortion, one count of attempted extortion, and seven counts of receipt of a bribe by an agent of a state government receiving federal funds. She is also facing 10 additional counts of mail fraud. This week, prosecution witnesses portrayed Shoffner as combative with staff members and unconcerned with potential business deals that might raise red flags with state auditors.

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Roby Brock, a freelance journalist based in Little Rock, writes weekly for the Arkansas News Bureau. His weekly television program airs at 10 p.m. Sundays in Central and Northwest Arkansas. His email address is roby@talkbusiness.net; his website address is www.talkbusiness.net