Missouri Minute: Stifel completes German acquisition; trustee seeks Ferrellgas board change

Good morning, MBA readers,

For more than three years now, businesses operating in the U.K. and the rest of the European Union have been bracing for the fallout from Britain’s planned departure from Europe. Those businesses include St. Louis investment bank Stifel Financial. Stifel’s solution to Brexit uncertainty? Buy out a company in Europe that is already authorized to provide investment services in the E.U. And speaking of investments, a Kansas City software startup has raised almost $5 million with hopes that it can grow quickly and disrupt the property rental industry. Start your week by learning more about these deals and other top business stories from across Missouri.

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Two more Cerner execs plan departure
Cerner announced that COO Mike Nill and Jeff Townsend, executive vice president and chief of innovation, will leave the North Kansas City health care IT company next year. Nill, who joined Cerner as a software engineer in 1996, sold nearly $17 million in company stock in June. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Three St. Louis credit unions rebrand under one name
Credit unions for Anheuser-Busch, Purina and American Eagle will rebrand as Together Credit Union, following two years of research by management. President and CEO Bob McKay said the credit union’s historical affiliation with the Anheuser-Busch brewery has been important but confused potential customers in recent years as credit unions expanded their membership eligibility. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Stifel completes German acquisition
St. Louis investment bank Stifel Financial has acquired MainFirst Bank of Germany for an undisclosed amount. The merger allows Stifel to continue offering corporate advisory, brokerage and other banking services without disruption after the U.K. departs from the European Union. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Trustee seeks to replace Ferrellgas board ‘before it’s too late’
Illinois-based GreatBanc, which serves as trustee of Ferrellgas’ employee stock ownership plan, has filed a countersuit asking a federal court for permission to replace the company’s board. Ferrell Cos. sued GreatBanc last month for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and tortious interference. (Kansas City Business Journal)

O’Reilly executives unload $23 million in stock
After O’Reilly Automotive’s stock hit multiple 52-week highs in recent days, seven executives of the Springfield retailer sold more than 60,000 shares collectively, valued in all at $23.3 million. Leading the trades was board Chairman David O’Reilly, who made $7.9 million from selling 20,000 shares between Oct. 29 and 30. (Springfield Business Journal)

Rents soar in St. Louis, driving out lower-income residents
A new study by a local housing council found that the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in St. Louis rose to $924 this year from $814 in 2014, marking an average annual spike of 2.7%. Downtown rents rose to $1,030 this year from $670 in 2014, an annual increase of 10.8%, the steepest in the region. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

KC construction firm changes hands
Jason and Jenny McDowell are taking over as the new owners of Mid-America Contractors after former owners Marilyn and Jack Coughlin decided to retire. Jason McDowell said revenue was about $20 million last year. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Board seeks to pause flavored vape sales in Columbia
The Columbia/Boone County Board of Health has asked the city to place an immediate moratorium on the sale of flavored vaping products until the board can draft permanent regulations for the products. The Columbia City Council will hear the report at its Monday meeting. (Columbia Missourian)

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Today’s graphic looks at passenger traffic on the short-lived Icelandair route between Kansas City International Airport and Reykjavik, Iceland. Icelandair pulled the plug on the seasonal route despite consistent monthly ridership growth. For each month the flight was offered in 2019, the number of travelers between Kansas City and Iceland was higher than for the same month in 2018.

Say that again

“If you look at Arkansas, they’ve got nice competition in their marketplace, but they’ve also expanded Medicaid. We look a lot like Mississippi, which is struggling to get insurance in rural counties.”

That’s Sidney Watson, director of the Center for Health Law Studies at Saint Louis University, who attributes the lack of choice in Missouri health plans to the state’s failure to expand eligibility for Medicaid, Kaiser Health News reports. Currently, more than two-thirds of Missouri counties have only one insurer, Watson said, and those who would be eligible under expanded Medicaid are instead enrolling in marketplace plans. And since they tend to be less healthy, those enrollees drive up premiums in the marketplaces. Experts add that the lack of choice also renders moot the new federal ratings system, which evaluates health plans based on administrative and clinical measures.

Go figure

$483 million

That’s how much the state could spend addressing workplace-related legal cases, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. A report released Friday by Attorney General Eric Schmitt showed the state has paid at least $76,000 to former social worker Gwendolyn Hill, who claimed her allergy-like reactions to perfumes in the workplace were repeatedly ignored by her supervisor. The state ended Hill’s employment in 2009 when she was unable to return to work. Hill’s subsequent case against the state marks the latest payout by the state related to managers inadequately addressing workplace concerns.

Hello, my name is


This Kansas City software startup expects to grow its client base by 500% to 3,000 by the end of next year, Startland News reports. Simplifyy, which launched in October, makes software for the property management industry aimed at improving return on investment for multifamily property owners. The platform covers core property operating expenses, including administration and payroll, for one monthly price. Simplifyy and its growth goal attracted a trio of local entrepreneurs, who recently invested $4.75 million in the company. Robert Henrichs, one of the investors, said the group saw Simplifyy as a company with the potential to disrupt the traditional apartment rental business, which he said has had “little motivation for innovation on the operations side.”

It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.


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