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Jonesboro telecom's majority stake sold

Arkansas-based Ritter Communications has sold a majority interest to a Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm, the companies said in a news release Monday.

Grain Management, which invests in the global communications segment, acquired a majority stake in Ritter Communications from the Marked Tree-based E. Ritter and Co. The Jonesboro-based Ritter Communications provides phone and video services, Internet access, and cloud data storage to residential and wholesale customers, according to the release.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

"Our goal was to secure the company's future by bringing in a majority investor and partner with industry expertise and a proven history in the communications sector; the Ritter family will retain positions on the board and continue to be involved," Ronda Ritter Ray, lead family director, said in a statement.

Ritter Communications first provided phone service in 1906. The telecommunications company serves 89 communities, with more than 45,000 customers across Arkansas, southeast Missouri and west Tennessee, according to the company.

-- John Magsam

Walmart rebranding planned for Brazil

Walmart Inc.'s stores in Brazil that were acquired last year by a private equity firm will be rebranded by June 2020, Reuters reported Monday. In addition, Walmart Brazil is changing its name to Grupo BIG.

The Bentonville-based retailer sold 80% of its Brazilian operations last year to Advent International Corp., taking a noncash charge of about $4.5 billion. After the deal closed in August 2018, Advent said it would invest $485 million to convert unprofitable hypermarkets into wholesale stores.

Walmart Brazil operated nearly 500 stores under different banners and formats. According to Reuters, nearly 100 stores using the Walmart brand will be renamed BIG and BIG Bompreco. Another 27 stores will become wholesale Maxxi stores and members-only Sam's Clubs.

Grupo BIG told Reuters that it will open 10 Sam's Club stores by August 2020 and invest $301 million in its stores over the next 18 months.

-- Serenah McKay

Index slides 9.09, ends day at 408.84

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Monday at 408.84, down 9.09.

"The continuing saga of the trade war between the U.S. and China is now morphing into fears of an impending global recession that pushed our major indexes lower by more than 1% on Monday," said Chris Harkins, managing director at Raymond James & Associates in Little Rock.

The index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.

Business on 08/13/2019

Print Headline: Jonesboro telecom's majority stake sold Walmart rebranding planned for Brazil Index slides 9.09, ends day at 408.84

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