The Top 10 Arkansas Business Stories of 2012: Making History

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 12:00 am  

In many cases, the result has been consolidation in the health care industry, and the announcements started early and came often in 2012.

In January, St. Vincent Health System of Little Rock bought Heart Clinic Arkansas, the state’s largest cardiology group with 29 doctors, and Baptist Health and Arkansas Cardiology partnered to form Baptist Health Heart Institute. Arkansas Heart Hospital of Little Rock said it would open a cardiology clinic on the campus of Saline Memorial Hospital and provide the Benton hospital 24/7 coverage for emergency heart care needs.

In April, Capella Healthcare of Franklin, Tenn., which owns National Park Medical Center in Hot Springs, announced plans to buy Mercy Hot Springs, formerly St. Joseph’s Mercy Health System.

And in late August, St. Vincent and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences announced that they were studying an “affiliation” that would allow them “to deliver collaborative and/or integrated services.”

3. Wal-Mart Hits 50 Years While Under Scrutiny

2012 should have been a banner year for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

At the beginning of the year, the Bentonville retail chain was preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary in business. It has grown from a 35,000-SF store in Rogers to a retail empire that spans the globe and generated $446.95 billion in revenue and $15.7 billion in income for its fiscal year that ended Jan. 31.

But a bombshell report from The New York Times in April took some of the shine off the company’s July milestone. The story alleged that Wal-Mart’s Mexico division paid millions of dollars in bribes to grease the skids for store openings. Making matters worse, the paper reported, high-level executives knew about the allegations but took no action to notify authorities.

Shareholders sued Wal-Mart’s board over the allegations that the company had violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Michael Duke, Wal-Mart’s president and CEO, addressed the issue at the company’s shareholder meeting/anniversary celebration.

“We’ve all heard the recent allegations about the company,” he said. “Let me be clear: Wal-Mart is committed to compliance and integrity everywhere we operate. I want to personally assure you, we’re doing everything we can to get to the bottom of this matter.”

But the issue didn’t go away. In November, Wal-Mart announced in a Securities & Exchange Commission filing that investigations into alleged violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act had expanded to other foreign markets, including Brazil, China and India. And Wal-Mart has already spent $99 million related to the investigation. The final bill, though, could be much higher, it said in the filing.



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