Arkansas Business' 25 Great Whispers (25th Anniversary)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Mar. 23, 2009 12:00 am  

June 20, 1988
A Sour Note?
None of the principals are talking, but we're told that Doyle Rogers' Excelsior Hotel is "many, many months" behind schedule in his note payments.

It's been no secret that the 420-room hotel in downtown Little Rock hasn't been matching its projections, since part of its deal with the city (which has the Statehouse Convention Center on the ground floor) was to share Excelsior profits during the first five years.

There's been no profit-sharing, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock recently got out of the University Conference Center.

Our source tells us that Savers Federal S&L made the $18 million loan and parceled out participations to other financial institutions. An attorney for one of those institutions says Savers has been sitting on the situation with Rogers. "How he has staved 'em off I don't know," says our source.

Repeated calls to Rogers and his associates weren't returned.

The Next Question
The next question is how is Rogers' FirstSouth Building doing? Again, we're told he's in arrears on the financing for that project – by seven months, according to street talk.

Maybe the entry of Olympia Publishing will help. The fund-raising company took out a construction permit on $175,000 in finish-out, and will move into 14,000 SF on the 14th floor.

May 8, 1989
The Howl at OneBank
Lots of speculation and little confirmation about the sudden departure of David Howell from One National Bancshares, the bank holding company he set up with trucker J.B. Hunt.

Street talk centers on the profit picture at the banks, including OneBanks in Little Rock and Hot Springs and First National Bank of Fayetteville.

One hypothesis is that the banks haven't been profitable enough for Hunt, who made his millions on the road with the trucking company before buying FNB-Fayetteville in 1985 and the former First American of North Little Rock in 1986.

Hunt has to make the interest on his financing for the deal – $41 million from a St. Louis bank – through the operation of the banks, although the debt is secured by J.B. Hunt stock.

The acquired banks have been concerned with cleaning up old loans, and we hear that OneBank is expecting a hit from losses on a portfolio of automobile receivables it purchased from a third party. A bank spokesman declines comment on the loss.



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