Business Briefs for June 6, 2007

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Jun. 4, 2007 12:00 am  

  • Tyson Foods Inc. will lose its claim to being the world's largest protein maker and face increased competition after Brazil-based JBS, Latin America's biggest beef producer, bought Greeley, Colo.-based Swift Foods for $1.4 billion. Swift is the third-largest U.S. processor of beef and pork with $9 billion is sales last year and has plants in six states and Australia.

  • A topping-out ceremony was held last week for Argenta Place in North Little Rock. The three-story, 24,000-SF building features five luxury condominiums and commercial office and retail space as well as an Irish restaurant and pub. It is scheduled for completion this summer. Paul Esterer, CEO of Vanadis 3 Cos., also announced details of two future projects: New Argenta Town Center, a 200,000-SF development to be anchored by a luxury hotel, grocery store and movie theater with about 150 residential units atop retail and office space, and a complex of modern townhomes that will consist of 57 three-story, two-bedroom homes. Units will range in size from 1,363 to 1,567 SF with prices starting under $275,000. Construction is expected to begin in the fall.

  • Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has been named one of the Top 10 U.S. Companies for Asian-Americans by Asian Enterprise magazine, the largest Asian-American small business-focused publication in the country. The magazine selected companies that foster the growth and support of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, as well as other people of color, in its corporate culture.

  • Tyson Foods Inc. has completed the sale of two poultry-processing plants at Ashland and Gadsden, Ala., and related support facilities to Koch Foods Inc. of Park Ridge, Ill. The sale also includes the company's Talladega feed mill, as well as its Fairknoll and Empire hatcheries. Terms of the transaction were not released.

  • The 17th annual Small Business Awards Luncheon will be held June 5 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Little Rock. The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Arkansas event, which honors the state's winners of the U.S. Small Business Administration's Small Business awards each year, will begin at 11:45 a.m. Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is the keynote speaker for the event.

  • Wachovia Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., the nation's fourth-largest bank, is buying A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. for $6.8 billion in cash and stock in a deal to form the second-largest retail brokerage firm in the United States. A.G. Edwards has 18 offices in Arkansas that will become a part of Wachovia Securities. The combined brokerage unit will be headquartered in St. Louis, and will have more than 3,300 brokerage locations nationwide, more than $1.1 trillion in client assets and nearly 15,000 financial advisers.

  • Baldwin & Shell Construction Co. of Little Rock has been named Contractor of the Year for 2006 by the American Subcontractors Association. The award goes to a contractor that exhibits fairness, professionalism and integrity in its relationships with subcontractors. Baldwin & Shell also was named Company of the Year for 2006-07 by Arkansas Chapter 33 of the American Society of Professional Estimators for its high standards in dealing with suppliers and contractors.

  • Susan F. "Susie" Smith has been promoted to senior executive vice president and chief operating officer at Metropolitan National Bank. She will continue to oversee several of Metropolitan's divisions ? including strategic planning, corporate treasury management, finance, retail banking, marketing, bank operations and human resources ? as well as handling new responsibilities. Smith joined Metropolitan in 1997 as controller and has been senior executive vice president and CFO since April 2005.

  • Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies Inc. restarted its Springdale South extrusion plant last week after the plant was closed because of a dust explosion. The Springdale facility is the largest of the company's three extrusion plants.

  • Entergy Arkansas' electricity rates will go up 12.6 percent on July 1 for its residential customers. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered the increase to equalize the rates for the four states in Entergy's territory. Entergy customers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas will see their rates drop about 6.6 percent.

  • A.M. Best Co. has assigned an improved financial strength rating of B (Fair) and an issuer credit rating of bb+ to QCA Health Plan Inc., which does business as. QualChoice. It has also assigned a ratings outlook, which indicates the potential direction of a company's rating, of "stable."



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