Dillard's Pay To Stephens' Firms Up 16.7%

Dillard’s Inc. paid $4.1 million for advertising to media companies associated with Warren Stephens of Little Rock for its fiscal year that ended Feb. 2, an increase of 16.7 percent over the previous year.

Stephens, the CEO of Stephens Inc. of Little Rock, sits on Dillard’s board of directors and the publicly traded retailer is required to disclose the dealings with directors’ companies.

Dillard’s paid Stephens Media LLC of Las Vegas $1.4 million in fiscal 2012, down 39 percent from the previous year. Warren Stephens owns Stephens Media with his cousins, Witt Stephens Jr. and Elizabeth Stephens Campbell.

Dillard’s dealings with Stephens’ other newspaper chain, Halifax LLC of Daytona Beach, Fla., has grown as Halifax has grown. The retailer’s total spending with Halifax was $2.295 million in fiscal 2012, up 234 percent from 2011. Warren Stephens indirectly owns a majority interest in Halifax through his Stephens Capital Partners of Little Rock. Halifax bought 16 newspapers in January 2012 and 20 more in June, although it has since divested some properties and now operates 33 newspapers and affiliated websites.

In fiscal 2012, Dillard’s paid $405,000 in advertising fees to Northwest Arkansas Newspapers LLC, the joint venture formed when Stephens Media and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette called a truce in 2009. The Dillard’s proxy said Warren Stephens “owns an indirect 25% interest” in that company — his half of Stephens Media’s half. Dillard’s reported paying NAN $525,000 during fiscal 2011.

In addition to the media spending, another of Warren Stephens’ companies, Stephens Insurance LLC, received $1.7 million in commissions from third parties for the sale of insurance to Dillard’s employees. And about $300,000 of that amount was for commission from premiums paid by Dillard’s for employee insurance programs. In fiscal 2011, Dillard’s paid $1.43 million to Stephens Insurance