First Security Buys Beardsley Public Finance

by Lance Turner and Gwen Moritz  on Tuesday, Sep. 14, 2004 12:26 pm  

First Security Bancorp of Searcy said Tuesday that it has acquired Beardsley Public Finance Inc., an investment banking firm that works as a financial advisor for public schools.

The two companies did not disclose a purchase price. Scott Beardsley, Beardsley's senior vice president, said the deal closed last month and that all its employees will remain with the company.

"We're excited about becoming part of a company that has so much momentum," Beardsley said. "My father has spent much of his career building and growing our company, so needless to say, we wouldn't join another organization unless they had a reputation we wholeheartedly embraced."

A.V. "Buster" Beardsley III, Scott Beardsley's father, has been a financial advisor and fiscal agent for more than 100 school districts and worked in the industry since 1964. He formed Raney & Beardsley with Thomas Raney as an affiliate with T.J. Raney & Associates Inc. in 1997. The company changed its name to Beardsley Public Finance in June.

The firm had for several years been the second most active of three school bond agents working in Arkansas, trailing Stephens Inc. but far outdistancing Morgan Keegan. Unlike Stephens and Morgan Keegan, Raney & Beardsley was strictly a fiscal agent and never bid on bond issues managed by other agents.

Controversial waivers issued by the state Securities Commissioner in the spring of 2003 allowed Stephens and Morgan Keegan to bid on the school bond issues they advised throughout the balance of the calendar year. The waivers were a response to unprecedented numbers of school bonds issued in the wake of the state Supreme Court's 2002 Lakeview decision that, among other things, enforced a constitutional requirement on local millage rates for schools.

In a news release, First Security said acquiring Beardsley adds to the range of services First Security's full-service investment banking firm Crews & Associates offers. Crews & Associates provides funding solutions for major projects, including municipal projects and education throughout the country.

First Security Bancorp is a financial-services holding company with $185 million in total capital and $1.9 billion in assets. It has more than 850 employees.



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