Oil, steel were big Arkansas business deals in 2013

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 110 views 

In business and in politics, 2013 saw some major deals reshape the Arkansas landscape. From superprojects to spin-offs to creative solutions, below are the biggest deals of the year.

House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, was involved in three of our top five deals that Talk Business ranked. He sat down for an interview on the “art of the deal” on this week’s Talk Business TV and radio program. His interview is embedded at the bottom of this post.

Top 10 Biggest Deals Of 2013
1. Murphy Oil Corp. spins off Murphy USA
The separation of El Dorado-based Murphy Oil’s retail and refinery operations into a new, independent publicly traded firm created a new $19 billion standalone company.

2. Big River Steel
The January announcement of the state’s first superproject – a $1.1 billion steel mill in Osceola – could inject new life in northeast Arkansas.

3. Home Bancshares Buys Liberty Bancshares
The July announcement of the $285 million mega-bank merger gave Home Bancshares a major footprint across northern Arkansas.

4. Simmons First Buys Metropolitan National Bank
The surprise $53.6 million auction win for Pine Bluff-based Simmons First will bring a busy round of activity to central and northwest Arkansas.

5. The Private Option
As far as legislative deals go, this one was historic. Using the state’s Medicaid expansion funds for private insurance was a tricky and creative solution to a thorny political problem.

6. Desegregation Settlement
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office brokered an agreeable end to the 31-year old desegregation case involving Pulaski County’s three major school districts.

7. Arkansas Best-Teamsters Contract
After years of protracted battles and frustration, Arkansas Best and the labor union representing many of its workers hammered out an agreement to move forward.

8. Arvest Bank Makes Moves
The Jim Walton-led bank closed on its four-state buyout of 29 Bank of America locations and it acquired National Bank of Arkansas in North Little Rock. It also competed for Metropolitan at auction.

9. First Federal Bancshares Buys Banks
The Harrison-based financial institution’s acquisition of First National of Hot Springs and Heritage Bank in Jonesboro for $74 million may be a harbinger of future moves. Just a reminder that former Alltel CEO Scott Ford is an investor in this enterprise.

10. Deltic Timber Takes Additional Stake In Partnership
Deltic Timber Corp. acquired the remaining 50% interest in Del-Tin Fiber, LLC , a subsidiary of Temple-Inland. The $20 million deal immediately boosted Deltic’s bottom line and led to a record year in profits.