Tuesday, June 15, 1999

Hawaiian Natural
Water buying Ali‘i

The stock transaction would
give the acquirer a foothold
in home and office water service

By Russ Lynch


Hawaiian Natural Water Co. said today it has agreed to purchase a Kona-based drinking water distributor, Ali'i Water Bottling Co., for an undisclosed number of Hawaiian Natural shares. Ali'i bottles and sells purified water in three- and five-gallon bottles to the home and office market on the Big Island and four sizes of smaller containers to retailers around the state.

Hawaiian Natural, which began commercial production in early 1995 and went public with a stock offering in May 1997, bottles pure water from deep under the Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island and sells it on the mainland and in the Middle East and Asia as well as Hawaii.

Marcus Bender, Hawaiian Natural president, said the acquisition fits with his company's aim to get into the full-service home and office water supply business.

Dennis Harris, chief executive officer of Ali'i Water, said he is not permitted to discuss terms of the deal or details of his business.

He said, however, that plans so far call for both his company's product line and that of Hawaiian Natural to continue.

Harris said his business complements that of Hawaii Natural because Ali'i has its own specialized market -- private-label water bottled for the various luxury resorts.

Hawaiian Natural has been growing rapidly, increasing its sales 73 percent last year to $1.8 million from $1 million in 1997. It has been losing money, reporting losses of $3.3 million last year and $2.6 million in 1997. However, the losses were mostly attributable to the cost of its national and international marketing.

The company narrowed its first-quarter loss to $416,548 this year, from $544,059 in the 1997 quarter. However, Hawaiian Natural's net worth has fallen below the $2 million minimum to maintain its listing on the Nasdaq SmallCap market.

The company has appealed a delisting notice and said it is seeking additional capital to meet Nasdaq's requirements. Nasdaq is expected to hold a hearing on the matter next month.

On Wall Street, HNWC closed unchanged today at 84 cents.

HNWC and Ali'i said the ownership change is subject to due diligence and approvals by regulators. The boards of directors of both companies also must approve the deal.

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