Acme Files Chapter 11 to Avoid Takeover

by George Waldon  on Monday, May. 5, 2014 12:00 am  

Lex and Alex Golden, father and son executives at Acme Holding Co., are fending off creditors with a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in hopes of preserving equity in Acme’s ownership of the $138 million-asset  Allied Bank of Mulberry (Crawford County). | (Photo by Jason Burt)

If Acme’s debt can’t be re-worked, the Chapter 11 could facilitate more favorable terms for relinquishing ownership of the leveraged Acme stock.

Beyond the Golden family, the two remaining blocks of stock are held by Tom Gibbons, a retired partner in the Little Rock accounting firm of Frost PLLC, and non-Golden family staffers with a stake in Acme’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

Gibbons bought his 21 percent share of Acme a few years ago. The ESOP holds a 41.1 percent share of Acme. The bulk of that is controlled by the Golden family.

The value of the ESOP shares has plummeted from $37 per share at year-end 2009 to less than $1, according to an ESOP source.

“We’ve lost it all,” said an Allied staffer, pessimistic about a turnaround.

The ESOP’s ownership of Acme is linked with $1.4 million owed on a loan originated by First Southern Bank of Batesville.

That debt was inherited by Southern Bank of Poplar Bluff, which acquired the failed bank in December 2010 in the wake of the Kevin Lewis special improvement district bond scandal.

The Chapter 11 filing describes the $1.4 million as an unsecured debt held by Southern Bank along with $2 million originally owed to Heartland Bank of Bryant but now held by Axys Capital Management of Austin, Texas.

The Southern Bank loan has been classified as nonaccrual for “some time,” according to an insider.

The Chapter 11 filing by Acme Holding Co. marks the second bankruptcy filing for an Arkansas bank holding company in less than 10 months.

Rogers Bancshares Inc., the parent company of Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock, filed for Chapter 11 on July 5 last year.

The move was made to facilitate an auction that resulted in the $53.6 million sale of Metropolitan to Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff.



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