$100 Million-Plus Deals Dominate Biggest Deals of 2013 List

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 12:00 am  

The number of high-value mergers and acquisitions in Arkansas — those believed to be worth $9 million or more — dropped in 2013 to 73 compared with 80 in 2012. But the number of really high-value deals — those worth $100 million or more — jumped from 14 in 2012 to 26 in 2013.

One of the highest-profile deals in the state last year was the $780 million purchase, announced in January 2013, by AT&T of Allied Wireless Communications Corp. of Little Rock. Allied Wireless comprised assets Verizon had to divest after its 2009 purchase of Alltel Corp. of Little Rock.

Allied Wireless, a subsidiary of Atlantic Tele-Network Inc. of Beverly, Mass., operated a retail wireless business under the Alltel name with 585,000 customers in rural areas of six states: Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Ohio and Idaho.

The Federal Communications Commission approved the deal in September.

Get the List: Access the full list of 2013's biggest deals.

The financial services sector in Arkansas was certainly among the most active in 2013.

The $320.1 million cash-stock purchase by Home BancShares of Conway of Liberty Bancshares of Jonesboro was the biggest, as in most valuable, in-state bank deal in Arkansas history, so big that Gov. Mike Beebe was on hand at the official announcement on June 25.

Johnny Allison, chairman of Home BancShares, called the deal the most significant transaction of his career and noted that the combination of the two organizations would create a banking franchise with 1,500 employees and scores of locations, including in Florida and Alabama.

“That’s a long way from selling my first mobile home at 13,” Allison quipped of his first business success in Jonesboro, where he grew up and met Wallace Fowler, chairman and CEO of Liberty, 50 years ago.

Media company deals were among the biggest on the list, at Nos. 2, 3 and 5.

The Tribune Co. of Chicago bought Local TV Holdings LLC of Newport, Ky., for $2.73 billion, picking up 19 TV stations, including CBS affiliate KFSM-TV in Fort Smith.

The Gannett Co. of McLean, Va. — owner of KTHV-TV in Little Rock and the Baxter Bulletin in Mountain Home — acquired Belo Corp. of Dallas in a deal valued at $2.2 billion and giving Gannett a total of 43 stations.



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