Shareholders Approve Recapitalization Plan for First Federal Bancshares

Shareholders of struggling First Federal Bancshares of Arkansas, the publicly traded holding company for First Federal Bank of Harrison, approved on Friday the deal that would give a Little Rock investment group majority ownership of the company.

The investment of up to $55 million by Bear State Financial Holdings LLC - led by former Alltel executives Joe and Scott Ford, Rick Massey and others formerly associated with Pinnacle Bancshares Inc. of Little Rock - was first announced in January.

At a special shareholders' meeting in Harrison, according to a press release from First Federal, stockholders approved three proposals recommended by the board of directors:

  • A one-for-five reverse split of all outstanding shares of common stock;
  • A change of control that would give Bear State more than 80 percent of resulting share; and
  • A new incentive plan for company executives.

As part of the deal, veteran Little Rock banker Dabbs Cavin will join the thrift's senior executive team. Other Bear State investors include Witt Stephens Jr., co-chairman and CEO of the Stephens Group LLC, and Gus Blass III, general partner with Capital Properties LLC and principal with Falcon Securities Inc.

"We appreciate the confidence and strong support of our many stockholders on all of the proposals associated with our recapitalization plan," CEO Larry J. Brandt said in the press release. "With these approvals in place, we are now positioned to implement the remaining steps in our recapitalization plan."

The initial steps in the transaction should close in May, according to the announcement.

First Federal lost about $4 million in 2010, which followed a loss of $46 million in 2009. Its stock (Nasdaq:FFBH) closedup 27 percent on Friday at $2.90 per share.

For more on the background of the Bear State investment, see:
Westrock Sets Sights on More Banking Deals

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