The Whispers Blog

Arkansas' breaking business news blog, with news and commentary from the Arkansas Business staff.
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Watch Video of the Arkansas Marijuana Commission Meeting Here

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. today.

The meeting is the commission's first after the state Supreme Court cleared the way last month for the state to launch its medical marijuana program, reversing and dismissing Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen ruling that prevented officials from issuing the first cultivator licenses.

A meeting agenda says the group will discuss "dispensary application scoring."

The meeting will be held in Suite 503 at 1515 W. Seventh St. in Little Rock. But you can also watch the meeting via livestream below, which is scheduled to begin broadcasting at 3:55 p.m. local time.

Update: Members of the commission took the first step toward hiring an independent consultant to review about 230 applications for dispensary licenses.

Video

Reuters: Acxiom Near Deal to Sell Marketing Solutions Unit for $2.2B

UPDATE: Acxiom is selling the unit to Interpublic for $2.3 billion.

On CNBC this morning, Reuters reports that Acxiom Corp. of Conway is nearing a deal to sell its Acxiom Marketing Solutions unit for $2.2 billion to Interpublic Group of Companies Inc. of New York.

The pending deal comes after Thursday's deadline for companies to submit bids for the business. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Interpublic and another advertising giant, Dentsu Inc. of Tokyo, were expected to be among the bidders.

In its report, the Journal, citing sources, said the division could sell for between $1.5 billion and $1.8 billion. During a conference call on fourth-quarter and year-end results in May, Acxiom CFO Warren Jenson said AMS had revenue of about $700 million in fiscal 2018; total company revenue was $917 million. 

The sale would leave Acxiom with its LiveRamp business. Reuters, citing unnamed sources, says the company "will eventually explore a potential sale of its remaining business, though its board may choose to give the Acxiom some time to trade in the public markets before they run a sale process ..."

Reuters says the deal to sell AMS could be announced "as soon as next week."

We've got more on the marketing solutions and LiveRamp businesses here.

Update: Shares of Acxiom (Nasdaq: ACXM) are up about 11 percent on the news.

Here's What Arkansas' Redesigned Driver's Licenses Look Like

The new design will be available at some revenue offices beginning July 9.

The state Department of Finance and Administration today unveiled a newly redesigned Arkansas driver's license and ID card. The state will begin issuing them July 9 at certain revenue offices, with the rest issuing them by Aug. 28.

"The new card features distinctive Arkansas images," the department said in a news release. "These include the gold front doors of the State Capitol along with diamonds. The back of the card features a full image of the State Capitol."

The new card also incorporates new security features, including a "ghost image" in the lower right hand corner.

Existing cards will remain valid of course. But if you want a new one, you can order a duplicate starting July 9 at a revenue office or online at mydmv.arkansas.gov. The cost is $10.

"Over the last three years DFA has prioritized the use of new technology to improve and simplify the services we provide to Arkansans," Director Larry Walther said. "The new license is a great example of this effort. We incorporated new security features that protect citizens from fraud through duplication."

The department says there were 2.15 million active Arkansas driver's licenses, along with more than 353,000 ID cards, in 2017.

Records: Bret Bielema's Fayetteville Home Sells for $1.8M

The listing for 4903 E. Maywood Road, Fayetteville, on Trulia.com.

Former Arkansas Razorbacks football coach Bret Bielema has sold his Fayetteville home, according to Washington County records. 

A warranty deed filed June 1 put the sale of the estate at 4903 E. Maywood Road at $1.82 million. Bielema, ousted as coach at the end of last year, paid $1.5 million for the property in May 2013.

The 5,700-SF home is in the Bridgewater Estates neighborhood. Built in 2011, the home has five garages, two fireplaces, four bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen, a wet bar, an exercise room, a heated saltwater pool and an outdoor kitchen, according to a listing on the real estate website Trulia.

Public records show it was purchased by Richard and Antoinette Reagan.

Neighbors include Razorbacks basketball coach Mike Anderson and baseball coach Dave Van Horn.

Previously: Northwest Arkansas' most expensive home sales of 2017.

See the Trailer for 'Antiquities,' A Film Shot in Arkansas

Gary Newton, left, along with Daniel Campbell, center, and Graham Gordy go over the script for their feature film “Antiquities,” which filmed primarily in Arkansas.

The filmmakers behind "Antiquities," a feature by Arkansans Graham Gordy and Daniel Campbell, have released the film's first trailer.

Shot in Arkansas, the ensemble comedy is about Walt (Andrew J. West), who moves to his late father's hometown to learn more about who his father was. He takes a job at a local antique mall and "learns not only about his father, but a good bit about himself."

The film, directed by Campbell and written by Gordy, also stars Ashley Greene, Michaela Watkins, Michael Gladis and Academy Award-winner Mary Steenburgen, who is also from Arkansas.

The film is from Mortuus Pater Pictures, a Little Rock startup movie company led by Gordy, Campbell and Gary Newton. It shot scenes on Main Street in North Little Rock in the fall of 2016.

The trailer is below. The cast also includes Roger Scott of 103.7 The Buzz, who's pretty funny in the trailer. Blink and you'll miss a quick shot of Little Rock developer Rett Tucker, who also has a role.