Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Monday, June 28, 1999

Building contracts tumble in state

The dollar value of contracts written in May for future construction work in Hawaii was $80.5 million, down 31 percent compared with $117.1 million in May 1998, according to the F.W. Dodge division of the McGraw-Hill Cos.

For the first five months of 1999, however, total construction contracts were up 1 percent at $633.3 million, compared with $628.7 million in the year-earlier period, said the firm, which monitors construction contracts nationwide.

U.S. group to meet in Hawaii twice

The Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau said it has signed two convention bookings with the National Association of Counties. The first, the Western interstate meeting in 2001, will be held at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort on the Big Island and is expected to attract 700 delegates from 15 states.

The second, which will use the Hawaii Convention Center, is the association's annual convention in 2005. It is expected to attract 5,400 delegates to Oahu who will spend about $12.5 million in the islands, the HVCB said.

Aston's parent buys another company

ResortQuest International Inc. has acquired a Colorado company that manages more than 350 rental properties and 15 vacation condominium owner associations in Aspen and Snowmass Village, Colo.

The purchase of Coates, Reid & Waldron was the 14th such acquisition for Memphis, Tenn-based ResortQuest since it was formed through an initial public offering in May of last year.

At its creation, ResortQuest was the owner of Hawaii-based Aston Hotels & Resorts and a dozen other vacation businesses.

The company now has 28 related businesses.

Qwest may get hostile in bids

DENVER -- Qwest Communications International Inc., which is bidding against Global Crossing Ltd. to buy U S West Inc. and Frontier Corp., said it may take its offers directly to the two phone companies' shareholders.

"As circumstances change, we may consider adopting different strategies to encourage U S West and Frontier, or their shareowners, to accept our offers, and we may set a deadline by which they must do so," Chief Executive Joseph Nacchio wrote in a letter to Qwest shareholders.

Nacchio is evaluating options after raising Qwest's bids to $54.32 billion for local phone provider U S West and long-distance carrier Frontier on Thursday.

Both companies already have agreements with Global Crossing and rejected Qwest's earlier offers.

One option the company is considering is making a hostile tender offer to Frontier and U S West investors, said Mike Tarpey, a Qwest spokesman.

In other news . . .

PARIS -- French utilities giant Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux SA announced today that it will acquire Nalco Chemical Co., an American water-treatment group, for $4.1 billion.


Of Mutual Concern

News for mutual fund investors

'Net fund manager quits

NEW YORK -- Ryan Jacob, manager of the $660 million Internet Fund, the third-best performing U.S. stock mutual fund this year, has resigned.

North Babylon, N.Y.-based Kinetics Asset Management Inc., which manages the fund, said Peter Doyle, 37, a founder of the Internet Fund and managing director of Kinetics, has taken over management duties, along with Steven Tuen, director of research at Horizon Asset Management Services LLC and analyst at the IPO Value Monitor.

Doyle is also a co-founder of New York-based Horizon.

Jacob, who was picked by Doyle in 1997 to run the Internet Fund, didn't return calls for comment. Doyle said Jacob plans to start his own company.

Doyle said he regrets Jacob's resignation. Whether the Internet Fund's success is due to a red-hot segment of the equity market or Jacob's skill as a stock-picker is "the $64,000 question," Doyle said. "It's probably a combination." The Internet Fund surged 90 percent this year through yesterday after soaring 196.1 percent last year.

Franklin gets aggressive

SAN MATEO, Calif. -- Franklin Resources Inc. is opening a second mutual fund to buy shares of U.S. stocks with above-average growth prospects, the top-performing part of the market until recently. San Mateo, Calif.-based Franklin, the biggest U.S. publicly traded fund manager by market value, said the Franklin Aggressive Growth Fund will invest in companies of all sizes. Earlier this month, the company introduced the Franklin Large Cap Growth Fund. Franklin's timing may be off. This year, so-called value stock funds are doing better than growth stock funds for the first time since the summer of 1997, according to Morningstar Inc., an industry research firm.

Franklin's new aggressive growth fund is managed by Michael McCarthy, 30.

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