Stephens Group Invests Millions

by George Waldon  on Monday, Aug. 27, 2007 12:00 am  

W.R. "Witt" Stephens Jr, co-chairman and CEO of The Stephens Group LLC

"We'd like to explore that relationship with them and look to fill in different capital needs within the state," said Joe Hays, managing director of Diamond State Ventures. "My guess is there will be other opportunities to work with them through referrals or other occasions."

The Stephens Group's Diamond State investment shouldn't be mistaken for a divergence. The company prefers investing in ventures with an earnings history, preferring firms that generate at least $5 million in pre-tax earnings.

"We're conservative, and we want to have the same agenda as management," Witt Stephens Jr. said. "They want capital that will be patient. We provide expertise, but we don't try to run their company.

"We're a little more casual," Rick Turner said. "We have a style that resonates with our partners. We're relational. We want to help them with our business acumen. Our style is such that we're not a distant partner, but we aren't calling them everyday."

The company has an admitted Arkansas bias Ñ for practical reasons as well as sentimental: It's simply more convenient to work with nearby companies. But its leadership is quick to point out that its investment interests go well beyond the state and region.

"We will put money to work to create the best possible return," Turner said. "We actually are looking around the globe."

New Investments

  • Sept. 29, 2006: Joined with The Sterling Group Ltd. of Houston to acquire a majority stake in Houston-based BTEC Turbines Ltd. Details of the equity and debt capital transaction weren't disclosed. BTEC, founded in 1997, specializes in refurbishing, repairing and packaging large gas turbines and turnkey power plant design, construction, commissioning and support.
  • Feb. 13, 2007: Provided $55 million in equity capital to support the growth of Seminole Energy Services LLC, a Tulsa-based natural gas marketing, gathering and processing firm that operates in 13 states.
  • Feb. 20, 2007: Bought a majority stake in Spitzer Industries Inc., a Houston-based custom fabricator for oil and gas production equipment. Details of the transaction, which completed a partial recapitalization of Spitzer, weren't disclosed.
  • April 3, 2007: Acquired a majority stake in Multi-Shot LLC, an independent directional drilling services firm in Conroe, Texas, and provided subordinated debt financing. Details of the transaction weren't disclosed. Multi-Shot is attempting to convert into a public company as part of a merger with JK Acquisition Corp. of Houston. If successful, Multi-Shot would morph into MS Energy Services Inc. and The Stephens Group would become a minority investor in a public venture.
  • April 19, 2007: Teamed with Lake Capital of Chicago to purchase a majority interest in Little Rock's Vestcom International Inc. Details of the transaction weren't disclosed. Vestcom is the leading provider of shelf-edge communications for many of the nation's top grocery, drug and mass merchandising chains.



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