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Simmons to merge subsidiary banks

Pine Bluff-based Simmons First National Corp. announced in a Wednesday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it intends to consolidate its seven subsidiary banks into a single banking organization.

Third round of layoffs at Acxiom begins

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.

Walmart profits tumble

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.

Federal government shutdown impacts Arkansas

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.

USA Truck rejects takeover bid

Van Buren-based USA Truck on Thursday rejected a $242 million buyout bid from Phoenix-based Knight Transportation Inc. The company’s board of directors turned down its second unsolicited bid in the last two years, but Knight has vowed to take the issue directly to shareholders.

Business Briefs — Arvest Bank, Simmons First bid for Metropolitan National

In surprise moves, Bentonville-based Arvest Bank and Pine Bluff-based Simmons First National Corp. submitted bids to acquire Little Rock-based Metropolitan National Bank, whose parent company, Rogers Bancshares Inc., is embroiled in a bankruptcy proceeding. Arvest's bid was announced in a legal notice in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for an undisclosed figure, while Simmons First disclosed a $16.9 million bid in a SEC filing.

Business Briefs — Arkansas, U.S. unemployment rates intersect at 7.4%

Arkansas' jobless rate rose one-tenth of a percent in July to 7.4 percent, while the U.S. unemployment rate fell two-tenths to 7.4 percent. It is the first time that state and national unemployment have intersected since April 2008 when both jobless rates stood at 5.0 percent. Since that month, the U.S. unemployment rate spiked to as high as 10 percent, while the state jobless rate climbed as high as 8.0 percent. During the recovery years since 2008-2009, Arkansas' unemployment rate remained lower than the national rate until now.