Regions Wants Agents Accounts Replenished

Buried deep in the lawsuit that Regions Insurance Group filed last week against eight former employees who jumped over to Stephens Insurance LLC were letters outlining any outstanding obligations to Regions.

The two rainmakers who led the commercial property and casualty team, Stan Payne and Bill Bussey, each apparently had negative balances in their draw accounts of almost $29,000 – a fairly modest figure for major producers in an industry in which overdrawn draws are not unusual.

Regions gave them 10 days from the March 17 date of the letter to settle up under the assumption that "you did not intentionally overdraw your account."

But a much bigger repayment was demanded from Payne: The money Regions spent buying him a membership in The Alotian Club, which, like Stephens Insurance, is owned by Warren Stephens.

According to the letter, Payne signed an agreement on Aug. 18, 2003, in which he agreed to reimburse Regions (then Rebsamen Insurance Co.) for his membership in the ultra-private (and ultra-secretive) golf club if he left the company within a certain time.

"Since you left prior to the completion of six (6) years under the agreement, you owe Regions Insurance the sum of $150,000.00 which is currently due and payable. Please deliver your payment of $150,000.00 to Regions Insurance in Little Rock," W. Stephen Gardner of Memphis, in-house counsel for Regions Insurance, wrote in the letter.

Warren Stephens, who last week issued a statement defending the integrity of the new hires, also authorized spokesman Frank Thomas to comment on Regions' demand for repayment from Payne:

"Mr. Stephens thinks it's nice that Regions thought enough of The Alotian Club to help Stan become a member, but the figure quoted is not accurate."

Back in 2005, Arkansas Business listed about a dozen members of Alotian, which opened in the fall of 2004. Stan Payne was on that list. So was Marty Rhodes, who had just been hired to run Stephens Insurance.