Talk Business & Politics Staff

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Fayetteville-based Arvest Bank is acquiring Little Rock-based Bear State Bank in a deal valued at $391 million that is expected to close no later than the first quarter of 2018, and will push Arvest to almost $20 billion in assets.

The deal was announced early Tuesday and equals $10.28 per share of Bear State stock.

Thinly-traded Bear State shares (NASDAQ: BSF) closed Monday at $9.20 and were up almost 11% in Tuesday morning trading. During the past 52 weeks, the share price ranged between $8.65 and $10.95.

U.S. Senator John Boozman in the Republican Party of Arkansas headquarters in 2016 during a campaign interview.
KUAR News

U.S. Senator John Boozman, R-Ark., has scheduled a follow-up surgical procedure next Tuesday (Aug. 15) that’s related to an emergency heart surgery he underwent a little more than three years ago.

Boozman, Arkansas’ senior senator, had surgery April 22, 2014, to fix an aortic dissection. The procedure was performed at Mercy Hospital in Rogers. The medical staff at the time said the surgery went as planned.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump
NPR

Arkansas voters are relatively split on President Donald Trump’s campaign ties to the Russian government, but a majority are not ready to impeach him over the matter or call for his resignation at this time. That's according to a new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey that shows voters are keenly aware of the issue.

Q: Do you think the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election? 

41% Yes
43% No
16% Don’t Know

Arkansas voters oppose a Republican effort to repeal Obamacare immediately and wait two years to find a replacement plan.

The latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey of more than 500 Arkansas voters tested this effort and asked an additional question about Medicaid expansion and the Arkansas Works program.

Q: Senate Republicans have discussed a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act now and replace it two years from now with a yet-to-be-determined plan. Do you support or oppose this?

30% Support
52% Oppose
18% Don’t Know

Donald Trump speaking at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

In the now-reliably red state of Arkansas, President Donald Trump’s job approval rating is taking a hit.

According to the latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey, the nation’s chief executive has gone from a 60%-35% job approval-disapproval rating in February to just 50-47% in July. In April, Trump had a 53%-39% approval rating.

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Donald Trump is doing?

39%  Strongly Approve
11%   Somewhat Approve
7%    Somewhat Disapprove
40%  Strongly Disapprove
3%.   No Opinion

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) questioning Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about Russian hacking.
C-SPAN

Republicans in the U.S. Senate released the initial draft of a healthcare bill Thursday that will reduce Medicaid spending, cut taxes for the wealthy, limit subsidies to private insurance companies, remove health insurance mandates, lower taxes for companies in the healthcare industry and enact other changes.

GOP presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump.
Charlie Neibergall/ AP

Despite objections from world leaders, big business, Democrats, and people within his party and family, President Donald Trump announced Thursday he’s removing the U.S. from the historic Paris Climate Accord.

Talk Business and Politics reports:

A Fayetteville pastor says he plans to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep Steve Womack, R-Rogers in Arkansas’s 3rd Congressional District.

Robb Ryerse, founder and co-pastor of Vintage Fellowship Church in Fayetteville, has declared his candidacy for the Congressional seat with the backing of the progressive group Brand New Congress.

Flooding
Twitter

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue took an aerial tour Sunday over flood-ravaged Northeast Arkansas. Perdue promised the federal government would provide resources to help residents and farmers put their lives back in order.

“The president asked me to come down and take a look … I was happy to do it,” Perdue said.

Flooding Lawrence County Farms agriculture
Arkansas Farm Bureau / Twitter

At least 10 percent of Arkansas’ rice crop could be lost as historic floodwaters wash through northeast Arkansas and head south in the coming days. The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture estimates 100,000 rice acres have probably been destroyed or significantly impacted, and that number could rise dramatically by this weekend, U of A rice extension agronomist Dr. Jarrod Hardke told Talk Business & Politics.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, issued a statement on Monday calling for the Arkansas House of Representatives to bring articles of impeachment against Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen.

“Because of his gross misconduct in office, I am calling for the Arkansas House of Representatives to bring an article of impeachment against Judge Wendell Griffen. He should never again be allowed to hold office of any sort in Arkansas. We as the General Assembly can remove the stain that Griffen has left on our judicial integrity,” Garner said in a prepared statement.

Arkansas-based retail giant Wal-Mart in its re-organization of the Walmart U.S. technology division is eliminating around 300 jobs in the Information Systems Division (ISD).

Insiders said the retailer is laying off about 10% of its ISD workforce over the next few days. The layoffs at ISD in Bentonville began this week and are expected to continue through the month.

House Minority Leader Michael John Gray
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas House Minority Leader and State Rep. Michael John Gray, D-Augusta, was elected as the new chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas. He succeeds Vincent Insalaco, who steered the state’s Democrats for two election cycles.

“To the hundreds of Arkansas Democrats who gathered today to elect new leadership, I am humbled and overwhelmed to be the next chair of the Party. To all of the Democrats across our state, I look forward to serving all of you and fighting for a brighter future for all of our fellow Arkansans. To our new officers, congratulations and thank you to all who stepped up to run,” Gray said.

Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Whirlpool’s 2016 Annual Progress Report to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality will be released on Feb. 15, according to ADEQ spokeswoman Kelly Robinson.

Tyson Foods CEO Tom Hayes
Tyson Foods

Tyson Foods ended its fiscal year with net income of $1.768 billion, 45% more than the previous fiscal year, thanks in part to lower grain costs, better margins in the chicken segment and continued success with its prepared foods business.

Fiscal year revenue totaled $36.861 billion, below the $41.373 billion in fiscal year 2015, and below the consensus estimate among analysts following the company of $37.12 billion. The fiscal year per share earnings of $4.53 was well ahead of the $2.95 in fiscal 2015 but below the consensus estimate of $4.59.

Six days after six members of the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team knelt in protest during the national anthem, college officials on Wednesday announced “Project Unify,” a “community engagement program” designed to address concerns that fueled the protest.

The move, which will see the players no longer kneel during the anthem, could also quell backlash against the team and the university that included one Arkansas senator threatening to put a hold on the university’s budget.

Stock Photo

Consumers in Arkansas say their personal finances have improved this year as have their expectations for the state’s business climate next year, according to the Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey this fall.

The second quarter economic story of Arkansas’ four key metro areas was much like the first quarter story: unchanged from the previous quarter, but healthy, with continued job gains and sales tax revenue growth, according to The Compass Report.

Compared to the second quarter of 2015, economic conditions were down slightly in Central Arkansas, better in Northwest Arkansas, unchanged in the Fort Smith metro, and up in the Jonesboro metro.

Tom Cotton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

At least two members of Arkansas’ Congressional delegation have opened the door to GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump stepping down from the ticket.

A political firestorm began Friday and has grown through the weekend resulting from a 2005 recording that features Trump having a private conversation with Billy Bush, then a co-host with “Access Hollywood” as they arrived on the set of “Days of Our Lives,” where Trump made a cameo appearance.

Hunting and fishing giant Bass Pro Shops is acquiring competitor Cabela’s Inc. for $5.5 billion in an all cash deal that will combine the two iconic American retailers with loyal outdoor-oriented customer bases across the American South, West and Midwest.

In an announcement after the opening of the New York Stock Exchange, privately-held Bass Pro and publicly traded Cabela announced they had entered into a definitive agreement under which Bass Pro Shops will acquire Cabela’s for $65.50 per share in cash, a 19.2% premium over Friday’s closing price of $54.93.

Jason Burt / Arkansas Business

Dr. Dan Rahn announced Monday he will retire July 31, 2017, as chancellor of the Little Rock-based University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. His departure will mark almost eight years as head of the state’s largest public employer.

UAMS has 3,021 students, 789 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other medical personnel who work at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS regional centers in Arkansas.

While a better Arkansas economy has helped lower the state’s 2013-2015 food insecurity rate to 19.2% from the 19.7% in the 2010-2012 period, national and regional food bank officials say more help is needed and the rates remain above pre-recession realities.

Doug Whitlock Chuck Welch Arkansas State University ASU
George Jared / Talk Business & Politics

Dr. Doug Whitlock and his wife, Joanne, planned to spend their 48th wedding anniversary in the quiet solitude of retirement. But Arkansas State University needed a new chancellor to calm the proverbial waters after the controversial exit of former Chancellor Tim Hudson.

Election vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Not only has the 2016 presidential election cycle deviated from the typical – or expected – script, but detailed analysis by ChamberLeads.com using Little Rock-based Acxiom consumer data shows unusual demographic trends for first time voters, Talk Business & Politics reports.

Stock Photo

Talk Business and Politics reports:

Low interest rates, stable loan demand and hyper competition characterized the banking climate in the state and nation, with net income for all U.S. banks up 1.46% in the second quarter of 2016.

Heavy rains during the last two weeks could significantly impact the row crop harvest in northeast Arkansas, experts say. At least 14 inches of rain fell in parts of the region, and many rivers have swelled outside their banks and numerous fields are flooded, according to the National Weather Service.

Natural Gas Drilling Mt. Vernon in Faulkner County
Arkansas Times

The energy sector continues to struggle in Arkansas and nationwide, with state severance tax revenue down almost 60%. But there are some signs of resurgence in the oil and gas industry

Despite increases in crude oil prices since the start of the year, employment in oil and natural gas extraction and support activities continued declining from levels reached in the fall of 2014, just before the onset of falling oil prices.

Mainstream Technologies will open a second location in downtown Conway, the 20-year old IT services firm announced on Thursday.

The Conway facility will begin operations in September with 15 new employees. Little Rock-based Mainstream provides managed services, custom software, and hosting to clients throughout the mid-South.

Fiscal second quarter net income for Wal-Mart Stores rose more than 8%, with adjusted per share earnings of $1.07 topping the consensus estimate of $1.02. Quarterly revenue of $120.854 billion also beat expectations.

Talk Business & Politics reports Walmart U.S. same-store sales rose 1.6%, marking the eighth consecutive quarter of positive comps with the closely watched financial metric.

American Railcar Industries will add up to 60 jobs at a new manufacturing facility in Paragould. Corbitt Manufacturing, a component manufacturing operation with ARI, will begin production at the new facility this month, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, along with local leaders, made the announcement Wednesday in Paragould. ARI already has plants in Paragould, and Marmaduke that employ about 1,000 workers, according to the company.

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