Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Friday, December 14, 2001

Sheraton to run Molokai Ranch properties

Molokai Ranch Ltd. has retained Starwood Hotels & Resorts Hawaii to manage and market its 22-room Molokai ranch Lodge in Maunaloa Town and the 40-unit Kaupoa Beach Village on Molokai's southwest shore.

The properties will be run under a new name, the Sheraton Molokai Lodge & Beach Village, staring in February.

Starwood's Sheraton division will also assume management of most of Molokai Ranch's network of recreational activities, including ocean kayaking, mountain biking, cultural hikes and children's programs, while the ranch will continue to run the clay shooting, archery and horse riding activities.

Kenny Ching, a former Sheraton executive who has been running the lodge and beach village, will continue to do so under Sheraton's management, the companies said.

Aston to manage Waikiki Parkside Hotel

Aston Hotels & Resorts has won a contract to manage the 255-room Waikiki Parkside Hotel. On Monday, when the contract starts, the property will become the Aston Waikiki Parkside.

Under the agreement with the owners, LaeRoc Partners LLC, $2 million will be spent on renovations. LaeRoc said it has had a good experience with Aston's management of its first Waikiki investment, the Aston Aloha Surf Hotel.

The new contract brings Aston's management to a total of 34 properties on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. Aston is a subsidiary of Memphis, Tenn.-based ResortQuest International Inc.

Dole Food boosts dividend to 15 cents

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. >> Dole Foods Co. approved a plan to boost its quarterly cash dividend by 50 percent in 2002 to 15 cents from 10 cents.

The fruit producer said today that the increase, which will become effective for the first quarter of 2002, replaces the earlier rate that was in effect since 1991.

The company said business reconfiguration programs the company implemented in 2001 and the recent sale of its Honduran beverage operations led to an improvement in the company's financial position.

On Nov. 29, Dole said it sold its 97 percent stake in Cerveceria Hondurena SA beverage operations to a unit of South African Breweries PLC for $537 million. The company said it expected the move to dilute its 2002 earnings by about 22 cents a share. However, Dole estimated that the dilution would be largely offset by the reconfiguration programs.

Japan travel overseas down nearly 20 percent

TOKYO >> The number of Japanese planning to travel overseas during the holiday period from Dec. 22 to Jan. 6 was down about 20 percent, to 1.36 million, compared to last year as a result of the attacks on the United States, Japanese media said today.

Hit hardest were flights to the United States mainland and Hawaii, which saw bookings at only 60 percent of last year's levels.

In one example, Japan Airlines will only add 28 extra flights to Hawaii during the holiday period, compared with 60 extra flights last year, it said.

Japan Air to restore Vegas flights

LAS VEGAS >> Japan Airlines will reinstate its nonstop flights between Las Vegas and Tokyo in March, the company said yesterday.

The airline, which suspended its five weekly flights in October, will resume them March 1, said Irene Jackson, a JAL representative in New York.

Tokyo-based JAL reduced, then suspended its flights linking McCarran International Airport with Tokyo after demand dropped dramatically after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Airline officials had said flights would be discontinued through Jan. 31.

AOL-Time Warner goes to India

NEW DELHI, India >> Media giant AOL Time Warner Inc. and India's largest television and entertainment company, Zee Telefilms Ltd. will join forces to market their channels in South Asia, a Zee statement said yesterday.

Zee will hold 74 percent equity and AOL Time Warner affiliate Turner International India will take the remaining stake in the joint venture, which will be called Zee Turner Private Ltd. The AOL move is aimed at improving its position against Rupert Murdoch's Star Television, which already has a strong presence in India.

Korea jobless rate unchanged

SEOUL >> South Korea's jobless rate held steady in November, the latest sign Asia's third-largest economy is dodging a global slowdown that's triggered recessions and record unemployment in neighbors such as Japan and Taiwan.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged from October at 3.5 percent the National Statistical Office said. The rate is down from 4.1 percent at the start of the year. So far, South Korea has avoided the layoffs seen in neighboring countries, but joblessness may rise if a U.S. recession delays a rebound in exports.

Honda to make cars in China

TOKYO >> Honda Motor Co., Japan's No. 2 carmaker, plans to begin building small passenger cars in China from 2003, stepping up competition with General Motors Corp. and other foreign automakers, the Nihon Keizai newspaper said.

Honda plans to make 20,000 to 30,000 cars a year at its Guangzhou venture, the Nikkei reported without identifying sources. Honda owns half of the company, with Denway Motors Ltd. owning most of the rest.

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