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'Hamptons on the hoof'.

Alex Lieblong is known as a savvy investor, the owner of Lieblong & Associates of Little Rock as well as founder of Key Colony investments fund.

Lieblong also is among the six largest shareholders of Home Banc-Shares Inc. of Conway, according to the bank holding company's 2013 proxy statement.

Lieblong, a board member at Home BancShares, holds 1.98 percent of the company's stock, worth more than $19.3 million as of the statement's release in March.

But did you know that Lieblong spent a day or two earlier this month among--excuse us for lapsing into 1920s-era slang--the toniest of swells: those attending the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale of Selected Yearlings in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

This gathering hosts the sale of some of the finest--and most expensive--Thoroughbred racehorses in the world.

Lieblong's presence at the sale, held Aug. 5-6, was noted by The New York Times, which documented the event in an article published Aug. 9 and headlined "The Hamptons on the Hoof."

From The Times:

"Fortunes tied to shipping, steel, oil, trucking, construction and Campbell's Soup infused the auction with people liquid enough to buy million-dollar horses and to pay in full within 15 days, as rules require.

"There, for example, was B. Wayne Hughes, the self-made self-storage billionaire. There was Alex Lieblong, an Arkansas investor whose wife, JoAnn, was once the victim of a $1 million kidnapping plot. There was Robert Low, a trucking and gaming magnate, and D. Wayne Lukas, the horse trainer as controversial as he is successful, attired in one of his customary $3,000 suits. There was Barbara R. Banke, proprietor of Kendall-Jackson, one of the nation's largest wineries."

The Wall Street Journal reported that the sale seemed to indicate greater enthusiasm about the economy, at least among the awfully rich: "From the house perspective, the current spending could signal a new confidence. 'The fear of purchasing has subsided,' said Bayne Welker, vice president of sales for Fasig-Tipton."

The two-day event saw the sale of 108 horses for $31.9 million, with an average price of $295,093.

Lieblong, a member of the Arkansas Racing Commission, was out of the office last week and a voice-mail message wasn't returned as of press time. The Oaklawn website says that Alex and JoAnn Lieblong own a number of racehorses.

As for the kidnapping plot? That's old news but still interesting. Summing up:

James Avery Slack was convicted of the 1993 kidnapping of JoAnn Lieblong. In 1997, Slack, serving an 88-year sentence for the Lieblong crime, escaped from prison and abducted Johnny Allison, the chairman and co-founder of Home BancShares, who escaped from Slack after a couple of hours. In 1998, Slack was sentenced to 60 years for the Allison kidnapping.

Both Allison and the Lieblongs appear to have rebounded nicely.

Caption: Alex Lieblong

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Title Annotation:Whispers; Lieblong & Associates of Little Rock
Comment:'Hamptons on the hoof'.(Whispers)(Lieblong & Associates of Little Rock)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Geographic Code:1U7AR
Date:Aug 19, 2013
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