Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Hawaii Business
owner buys
Honolulu magazine

PacificBasin also purchases
rival monthly Island Business
in a major consolidation
of isle-based magazines

By Erika Engle

The publisher of Hawaii Business magazine has purchased rival title Island Business as well as Honolulu magazine in a major consolidation of the state's magazine industry.

PacificBasin Communications will buy the titles and some other assets from Honolulu Publishing Co. Ltd. for an undisclosed sum. Honolulu Publishing "will continue to exist and focus on visitor industry publications," said company Chairman David Pellegrin. Honolulu Publishing also produces Spirit of Aloha magazine for Aloha Airlines and drive guides to the islands, among other tourism publications.

Art The sale is expected to close at the end of September.

PacificBasin Communications acquires two of the oldest magazines of their kind in the United States, and will claim a combined monthly circulation of more than 80,000, including its titles Hawaii Remodeling and Pacific magazine. The circulation could perhaps be more, but Island Business will be folded into Hawaii Business, PacificBasin said.

Honolulu magazine, established in 1888 as Paradise of the Pacific under royal charter by King David Kalakaua, is the oldest regional consumer magazine in the country, Pellegrin said.

PacificBasin Chairman Duane Kurisu said Hawaii Business magazine is the oldest regional business magazine in the country.

About 20 employees of Honolulu magazine and Island Business will be fired, according to PacificBasin's filing to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

However, steps have been taken to cushion the unemployment blow, Pellegrin said.

"I can't talk about the price, but (the sale has) enabled me to pay bonuses to every single one of the 50-plus employees, each one of whom is getting $1,000 for each year he or she has been employed here," he said. "We have extraordinarily low turnover; the average length of tenure is nine years, more than half our employees have worked here more than a dozen years, and several have been here more than 20 years, so these bonuses are not insignificant."

In addition, fired employees will receive six months of severance pay, regardless of when they find new employment.

Pellegrin said the two exceptions are the editor and publisher of Island Business, who will each get a year's severance.

Island Business Publisher Mary Winpenny has been with the company since 1984. The magazine's editor is former Star-Bulletin business reporter Peter Wagner, who joined the magazine last year.

PacificBasin President Floyd Takeuchi, however, said it is too early to talk about which specific positions or the number of jobs that would be cut.

"We need to get over there, meet with folks and understand how they put out their magazines, and look at our operations," Takeuchi said.

The current PacificBasin staff will need help to handle the increased workload, he said.

"Clearly we have to hire, and very aggressively, but for exact positions and all, we just need to start meeting with people," Takeuchi said.

PacificBasin is targeting publications that reach the higher-income demographic in Hawaii, he said.

"Honolulu (magazine) has retail, Hawaii Business on the business-to-business level, Hawaii Remodeling has the home and garden market, and Pacific magazine gives us an international base," Takeuchi said.

Pellegrin said he had been trying to acquire Hawaii Business, but it turned out the other way around.

"I have tried persistently to try to acquire Hawaii Business," he said. "But (Kurisu is) in his mid-40s and I'm in my late 50s, so instead of our acquiring Hawaii Business, he's acquiring Island Business."

Pellegrin said both of his magazines have won local and national awards.

Circulation estimates

Honolulu magazine: Has a circulation of "around 30,000 paid," according to Honolulu Publishing Chairman David Pellegrin. (Last year's Audit Bureau of Circulations figure: 26,603.) Established in 1888 as Paradise of the Pacific under royal charter by King David Kalakaua.

Island Business magazine: Has a "controlled" circulation; it is sent to dues-paying members of Hawaii Chambers of Commerce and Small Business Hawaii, Pellegrin said. Converted to a glossy magazine in 1982 from its former newsprint tabloid format as Hawaii Real Estate Investor.

Hawaii Business: Circulation is "about 13,300," according to PacificBasin Communications President Floyd Takeuchi. Of that, just under 5,000 is paid, he said. Established in 1955.

Hawaii Remodeling magazine: A free publication with about 30,000 copies distributed at retailers and showrooms. Established in 1981; acquired by PacificBasin in December 2000.

Pacific magazine: Distributes about 7,500 copies in the Northern Pacific. It shares content with its former competitor, based in Fiji, which distributes about 7,500 copies of its own version to the South Pacific, Takeuchi said. Established in 1976; acquired by PacificBasin in May 2000.

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