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PINE BLUFF, AR-The majority stakeholder of the troubled Royal Arkansas Hotel & Suites has agreed with a Jefferson County, AR court decision to appoint a receiver for the asset. IBAC Corp. closed the 200-room, five-story hotel eight days ago.

The New York City-based IBAC acquired a 51% stake in the hotel at Two Convention Center Plaza in 2004. Its minority partner was International Hotel Management. In 2005, local bank Simmons First National Corp. and out-of-state Zions National Bank provided a combined $1-million credit facility in a working capital line of credit and a new-term facility to cover upgrades to the hotel and its restaurants.

The hotel property is developing a storied past as a result of IBAC’s arrangement with International Hotel, which was led by Gerry Becker, also the asset’s general manager and managing partner and who was charged with alleged credit card fraud in August 2006. The case is pending. The action came just as IBAC had issued a press release saying it was selling its 51% interest for $2.5 million to Becker’s group. With that plan sidelined, IBAC put in a new hotel manager and attempted to get the asset on course. As recently as last December, IBAC acquired the Rosswood Country Club at 7619 Rosswood Rd. as an amenity for the hotel.

IBAC says it has spent almost $1 million in past-due bills and another $800,000 to keep the hotel operational before doors were locked. It’s not certain when, or if, the hotel will reopen. Calls to IBAC were not returned by press time.

Zions Bank, a subsidiary of Zions Bancorporation in Salt Lake City, requested a court-appointed receiver Feb. 9. By virtue of the ruling, the receiver has 30 days to submit findings to the court.

The hotel’s performance allegedly was dependent upon convention center sales and the “ability to bring business to Pine Bluff,” IBAC CEO Edward Hayter says in a press release about the receivership action. “In my opinion, it was lackluster at best.”

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