Arkansas business headlines Nov. 28

    8:25 AM, Nov 28, 2012   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Business) -- Harry Reid, the Senate Majority leader from Nevada, told reporters he wasn't happy with negotiations between his Democratic party and the Republicans over solving the fiscal cliff. If loose ends over spending cuts and tax raises aren't tied up before January 1, another financial crisis could be triggered. Investors apparently taking him at his word.

    Some stocks had a good day including ConAgra, who has a strong presence in the state. The food producer saw its stock jump $1.34, 4.7 percent, to $29.63 news of its $5 billion deal to buy Ralcorp was made public. Ralcorp saw its numbers zoom up 26.4 percent, gaining over $18 to finish at $88.80. When the buy is finalized, ConAgra will become the nation's biggest maker of private-label foods.

    Also seeing a big lift in Tuesday trading was Dillard's, whose stock went as high as $88 a share, an all-time high for the chain, before settling back down to $87.72 at the closing bell.

    Much of the enthusiasm over Dillards was centered around Monday's announcement that shareholders of the company will receive a special, one-time cash dividend of $5 per share before the end of the year.

    The move could help the company's wealthier stockholders - including the Dillard family itself - sidestep higher taxes if tax hikes go into effect through a solution to the fiscal cliff problem.

    And some executive moves in central Arkansas:

    First, Tim Johnsen will step down as president of Mercy Hospital in Hot Springs on Dec. 7. Mercy said Johnsen has accepted the position of president of Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City. Kim Day, president of Mercy's central region, which includes Arkansas, will be interim president in Hot Springs.

    Phillip Jett has been named to the newly created post of Central Arkansas President at IberiaBank Corp.

    Pete Yuan will continue in his role as IberiaBank's Arkansas regional president as well as overseeing the company's title company operations.

    And Kelley Bass is the new CEO of The Museum of Discovery of Little Rock, replacing Nan Selz, who is retiring at the end of the year.

    Bass most recently was assistant dean for external affairs at the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology at UALR. He has been on the nonprofit museum's board of trustees for three years and is currently board secretary.

    Before joining UALR, Bass spent nine years at Acxiom Corp. of Little Rock in senior communications roles. Before that, he spent 18 years as a newspaper reporter, columnist and editor at the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Times.

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