Stephens Family Splitting Business

The heirs of Jack and Witt Stephens announced late Monday morning that they would be reorganizing the family business into two entities with both separate and joint business interests.

Warren A. Stephens, son of the late Jackson T. "Jack" Stephens and CEO of Stephens Group Inc., will own one of the two new entities. He will "acquire from the holding company 100% of Stephens Inc. and all related financial services companies. Stephens Inc. will also continue its historical business of being a private equity investor," according to the written announcement.

Warren Stephens will also acquire the Stephens building and nearby Capital Hotel.

Warren Stephens' cousins, siblings Witt Stephens Jr. and Elizabeth Stephens Campbell, will acquire the Stephens Group Inc. name and "form a new entity to pursue private equity investments on their behalf."

The families will remain 50-50 partners in the holding company, which will be renamed SH Corp. It will continue to own and operate joint investments like Las Vegas-based Stephens Media Group and Stephens Production Co. "as well as other private and public investments the families have made over the last 73 years," according to the statement.

"This reorganization is a natural evolution in almost all family businesses. It is not an end, but rather a new beginning," Warren Stephens said in the release. "My father and uncle laid a great foundation which has provided growth and opportunity across the country. I think our success has exceeded even their expectations. My cousins and I look forward to focusing our energies on the aspects of business that are important to each of us."

Witt Stephens Jr. also included a comment in the written statement:

"Elizabeth and I look forward to the opportunities presented by this reorganization. This will allow us to pursue our different investment strategies along with joint ventures with Warren. We are excited about our primary focus being private equity and the strengths of the team we have assembled."

Completion of the reorganization will likely take several months, Stephens spokesman Frank Thomas said, in part because Warren Stephens' acquisition of Stephens Inc. is subject to federal regulatory approval.

The Stephens Group is No. 2 on the list ofArkansas' largest private companies that appears in today's Arkansas Business. It trails only Truman Arnold Cos., which is actually located on the Texas side of Texarkana. Jack Stephens died last July and Witt Stephens died in 1991. Witt Stephens' third child, Pam Stephens, died in 2003.

Also part of the restructuring, Ron Clark, who currently heads Little Rock's Rose Law Firm as its managing partner, is leaving the firm to be general counsel of the new firm formed by Witt Stephens Jr. and Elizabeth Stephens Campbell.

In January, Clark made Arkansas Business' "Power List" of 171 people who run the largest or most influential companies or institutions in Arkansas.

Ron Clark could not be reached for comment.

(Chip Taulbee contributed to this story.)