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News in brief

February 16, 2019 at 1:37 a.m.

Broadband provider keys on Hot Springs

Ritter Communications, the Jonesboro telecommunications company, announced Thursday its entry into the Hot Springs broadband market with a $7 million investment in the coming months.

"Ritter Communications is dedicated to bringing a whole new level of high-speed business communications solutions to Hot Springs," Alan Morse, the company's president, said in a release after an announcement that included Hot Springs and Garland County officials. "This investment gives Spa City businesses the competitive advantage of access to the highest internet speed available."

Ritter said it will be the first company in Hot Springs to deliver a broadband service providing access at up to 10 gigabits per second. The new service will be available to some customers as early as August, Ritter said. For now, the high-speed service will be available only to businesses.

Ritter Communications was founded in 1906 in Marked Tree. It serves 89 communities and more than 45,000 customers in parts of Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee.

-- Stephen Steed

Tyson issues bonds to pay down debts

Tyson Foods Inc. this week issued $2.8 billion in three new bond offerings to help finance maturing debts and recent acquisitions of global chicken assets, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Analysts with Moody's assigned a debt rating of Baa2 to the bonds, considered medium grade.

Tyson said it plans to repay short-term loan agreements and partially fund the acquisitions of McDonald's chicken supplier Keystone and Thailand and European chicken operations from BRF, a Brazilian company.

"We may, however, use a portion of the proceeds to pay down certain other outstanding debt and/or for general corporate purposes," the company said.

The move will "significantly improve" Tyson's liquidity, Moody's analysts said in a research briefing.

Tyson's total debt load was $11.99 billion as of Dec. 29, according to its filing this week. Most of the debt is long-term. The short-term debt was valued at $3.9 billion.

Managers of the issue include Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, RBC Capital and Goldman Sachs.

-- Nathan Owens

Windstream surges as index gains 6.10

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, rose 6.10 to 426.24 on Friday.

Windstream shares jumped 6.7 percent in average volume while P.A.M. Transportation fell 1.9 percent in light trading.

For the week, all but one stock gained ground.

Total volume for the index was 23.7 million shares. The average daily volume for the week was 18.1 million shares.

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

Business on 02/16/2019

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