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Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Hawaii ’Net firm
raises $190 mil

Data exchange center operator
Pihana Pacific plans to use the
funds to expand business

By Russ Lynch

Pihana Pacific Inc. a Honolulu-based operator of Internet data exchange centers in Asia and the Pacific, said today it has raised $190 million in private financing to help it expand.

The company said it is equity funding that gives the company capital to complete its centers under construction in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Singapore, Sydney, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Less than a year old, Pihana Pacific began as Pacific Internet Exchange Corp., with a $12 million exchange center near Honolulu Airport that opened this summer.

The company has about 160 employees, 60 of them in Honolulu, and should have total employment of 200 by the end of this year, said spokeswoman Linda Brock.

Founded by Oahu-born Lambert Onuma, who was director of business development and research at Digital Equipment Corp., Pihana set out to build independent high-speed, high-volume Internet data switching centers.

The centers let customers get away from dependence on the big international telecommunications companies that traditionally handle the Internet business.

Pihana's selling point is that it is "carrier neutral" and not reliant on those companies, Brock said. The company will have a strong role in Asia where Internet congestion is rife and its centers will speed up data transmission by not having to route data from Asian points to the United States before they go to their Asian destinations, she said.

The company -- using a Hawaiian name that it says means "fullness and completion when forces come together" -- has an Asian headquarters in Hong Kong.

The financing deal was put together by the Asian headquarters in Hong Kong of Goldman, Sachs & Co.

"With significant funding and the resources of a group of strong shareholders, the company is well positioned to establish itself as an industry leader," X.D. Yang, Goldman Sachs (Asia) managing director, said today.

Pihana said its original financial backer and investor, Virginia-based Columbia Capital, was a significant participant in the latest financing round and remains Pihana's largest shareholder.

Besides Onuma as its chairman, Pihana's president and chief executive officer is Richard Kalbrener, who founded Long Distance/ USA as an independent telephone company in Hawaii. Kalbrener sold his business to Sprint Corp. in 1989 and stayed with Sprint to manage the Hawaii business.

He went on to form the Sprint Hospitality Group, ASC Telecom and Collegiate Connection for Sprint. In 1996, Kalbrener was named president of the Asia-Pacific region for Global One Communications, which was formed as a joint venture of Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom and Sprint Communications.

From a Hong Kong base, he established switching and data sites, network control facilities, call centers and other telecommunications-related offices throughout Asia. Kalbrener joined Pihana in January.

Bullet Pihana's Web site is at

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