Arkansas Firms Feel BlackRock's Trillion-Dollar Presence

by George Waldon  on Monday, Aug. 15, 2011 12:00 am  

"They're big, but they do it without making noise," said Alex Lieblong, president of  Lieblong & Associates of Little Rock and a director of Home BancShares Inc.,

where  BlackRock controls 6.2 percent of the outstanding shares.

Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies Inc. of Springdale and ThermoEnergy Corp. of Little Rock are the only Arkansas public companies that haven't drawn BlackRock interest.

A public company itself, BlackRock shares have traded as high as $207 in February, March and June this year. The 52-week low was $139 in November, and shares recently closed at $148.

BlackRock earned a whopping $2.06 billion in 2010 on revenue of $8.61 billion, placing it at No. 282 on the most recent Fortune 500 list of public companies ranked by revenue.

The company is led by Laurence Fink, chairman and chief executive officer since its inception in 1988.

Fink, an alumnus of First Boston Corp., is known for traveling against type, flying commercial instead of corporate jet.

Ivan G. Seidenberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications, is a director on the BlackRock board, which features a global flare, including an executive of the Arab Fund for Economic & Social Development.

Mutual Funds & Bonds

The Arkansas Teacher Retirement System has about $710 million invested in three of the many mutual funds created and managed by BlackRock. The state's largest pension fund stake in the BlackRock funds is divided among bonds, $300 million; global equity, $295 million; and domestic equity, $115 million.

"They are just another one of our fund managers," said Rod Graves, ATRS investment manager.

Elsewhere in the investment equation, Arkansas companies are part of the BlackRock family of funds.



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