Simmons First Execs See Compensation Boosts

Three of the five top executives at Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff enjoyed double-digit gains in their compensation packages during 2013.

Leading the way were Robert Fehlman, chief financial officer, at 30.3 percent, and David Bartlett, president and chief banking officer, at 29.2 percent.

Fehlman's total was $691,815 of which $300,971 was salary. Bartlett's total was $880,289 of which $369,000 was salary. 

Tommy May, former chairman and CEO of Simmons, received a 19.3 percent boost in total compensation during his final year with the company. May received $1.4 million in total compensation of which $520,000 was salary.

His successor, George Makris Jr., received total compensation of $643,305, which included a salary of $403,216. Makris has served as chairman and CEO since Jan. 2, 2013.

Marty Casteel, executive vice president, received a 6.9 percent increase in total compensation. His $642,368 total included a salary of $296,400.     

The Simmons proxy statement released yesterday also revealed two shareholders deemed to be beneficial owners of more than 5 percent of the company: BlackRock Inc. of New York, a 9.66 percent stake worth $58.7 million; and Simmons First National Corp. Employee Stock Ownership Trust, a 6.68 percent stake worth $40.6 million.

The company will hold its annual shareholders’ meeting at 7:30 p.m. on April 15 at the Banquet Hall of the Pine Bluff Convention Center. Among the items to be considered are fixing at nine the number of directors to be elected at the meeting. The move reflects a reduction in the number of seats on the board of directors. 

May retired from the company and resigned from the board on Dec. 31. May was elected to the board in 1987. He served as chairman and CEO of Simmons since 1996.

W. Scott McGeorge notified the company that he will not stand for re-election. McGeorge, president of Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel Co., was elected to the Simmons board in 2005.

The nine directors standing for re-election to the board of directors and their starting date as a director are:

  • David Bartlett, 62, president and chief banking officer of the company, January 2013.
  • William Clark II, 44, CEO of Clark Contractors LLC of Little Rock, 2008.
  • Steven Cossé, 66, retired president and CEO of Murphy Oil Corp. of El Dorado, 2004.
  • Edward Drilling, 58, president of the Arkansas division of AT&T, 2009. 
  • Sharon Gaber, 50, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Joined the board in 2011.
  • Eugene Hunt, 68, a Pine Bluff attorney, 2009. 
  • George Makris, Jr., 57, chairman and CEO of Simmons, 1997.   
  • Dr. Harry Ryburn, 78, a retired orthodontist, 1976.
  • Robert Shoptaw, 67, retired president of Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, 2006.

The company will also consider adopting: a non-binding resolution approving the compensation of its top executive officers and the Simmons First National Corporation Outside Director Stock Incentive Plan – 2014.

Shareholders will be asked to ratify the audit & security committee's selection of the accounting firm of BKD LLP of Springfield, Mo., as independent auditors of the company and its subsidiaries for the year ending Dec. 31, 2014.