Seven Days in May Shake up Arkansas (Editorial)

by Talk Business & Politics ([email protected]) 90 views 

The last week or two in May saw a year’s worth of major business news: The sale of Acxiom Corp. and Alltel Corp. and speculation on another major deal.
These developments resulted in questions, infuriated stockholders, lawsuits and a filing of opposition with the Securities & Exchange Commission.
First it was ValueAct Capital Partners’ and Silver Lake Partners’ $3 billion buyout of Acxiom. Just days later came TPG Capital and GS Capital Partners’ purchase of Alltel Corp. for $27.5 billion.
It suddenly seemed as though Little Rock was the deal-making capital of the world. To top it off, there was speculation that Dillard’s Inc., long considered a takeover target, might be exploring “strategic alternatives” — the same catchphrase that Alltel had been using before its sale.
Much of the time, the goal of the large private equity firms, which are feeding the stock market rise with their huge deals, is to make their buyouts much more efficient and either sell their purchases for a profit or take them public again.
We’ve always heard that Alltel was one of the best-managed companies around and have no reason to doubt that. We’re curious to know what kind of efficiencies the new owners might have in mind.
It’s more difficult to know about Acxiom and Dillard’s. The family that runs the department store chain simply doesn’t talk to the media or to analysts who could provide some insight into its operations.
On the other hand, Acxiom sends out plenty of news releases, but they’re written in such technological gobbledy-gook that we always suspect deep meaning may be hidden in there somewhere. What we do know about Acxiom is its history of ups and downs, often at the sacrifice of jobs toward the end of a fiscal year. Without constant pressure to meet Wall Street projections, perhaps Acxiom’s new owners will be able to make efficiency and job stability co-exist.