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Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Friday, October 24, 2003


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Businesses to get awards for ethics

An awards ceremony will kick off the Society of Financial Service Professionals' convention in Honolulu Monday morning.

The American Business Ethics Awards, established in 1994, recognize American companies that exemplify high standards of ethical behavior in everyday business conduct and in response to specific crises or challenges.

Awards will be presented to California-based Hewlett-Packard Co. in the large company category of more than 2,500 employees; Tennessee-based Beaman Automotive Group in the midsize category of 250 to 2,500 employees; and to Missouri-based Kuhn & Wittenborn Advertising, in the small company category with fewer than 250 employees.

Some 4,500 attendees are coming to Hawaii for the conference at the Hawaii Convention Center. The society is marking the 75th anniversary of its founding and the 10th anniversary of the American Business Ethics Awards.

Fed sweep nets Wal-Mart janitors

Federal agents raided 60 Wal-Mart stores across the nation yesterday and said they arrested more than 250 illegal immigrants who worked as janitors for outside contractors used by Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer.

As part of the 21-state raid, the largest immigration crackdown in years, federal agents also searched the office of an executive at Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. and removed papers, company and government officials said.

Hawaii wasn't included in the sweep.

One federal official said that a grand jury was investigating the matter and that the government believed that Wal-Mart executives knew about the widespread use of illegal immigrants. The official said the government had used wiretaps to investigate meetings and conversations among Wal-Mart executives and contractors.

30-year mortgage rate stays 6.05%

WASHINGTON >> Rates on benchmark 30-year mortgages, after rising for two straight weeks, were unchanged this week as the bond market stabilized.

For the week ending Oct. 24, the average rate on 30-year mortgages held steady at 6.05 percent, the same as last week, Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant, reported yesterday in its weekly nationwide survey of mortgage rates.

Rates on 30-year mortgages slid to 5.21 percent, the lowest level in more than four decades, in the middle of June. In late June, those rates started marching back up, but then they posted a month of declines. However, earlier this month they started rising again, breaking above the 6 percent level last week.

Economists said a factor in the recent increases were signs that the economic expansion was accelerating, putting upward pressure on bond rates. The stabilization this week reflected calmer market conditions, analysts said.

Rates on other mortgages were mixed this week. For 15-year mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, rates edged up slightly to 5.39 percent, from 5.36 percent last week. Rates for one-year adjustable mortgages averaged 3.76 percent, down slightly from last week's 3.79 percent.

Mandarin Oriental to get SARS pay

Mandarin Oriental International Ltd., the luxury hotel arm of Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd., will be paid a total of $16 million of insurance for claims related to lost business earlier this year, when the SARS epidemic led travelers to avoid hotels in Asia.

The company, which owns luxury hotels worldwide and has its operational headquarters in Hong Kong, received a $2.5 million interim payment and will receive a further $13.5 million, it said. Mandarin Oriental, which owns the Kahala Mandarin, is 40 percent owned by Jardine Matheson.

Justice sues to block Concord-First Data deal

WASHINGTON >> The Justice Department filed suit yesterday to block the $7.3 billion acquisition of Concord EFS Inc. by First Data Corp., contending the deal would substantially reduce competition in the electronic financial transaction industry.

Concord and First Data own two of the major personal identification number networks -- STAR and NYCE, respectively -- that allow consumers to use debit cards at banks, stores and other businesses.

The lawsuit contends that, using even conservative estimates, the two companies would control 45 percent of the PIN network industry in the United States if the merger went ahead.

Ex-Freddie Mac head to pay fine, offer info

WASHINGTON >> The ousted president of Freddie Mac is paying a $125,000 civil penalty and providing information in a federal investigation of the mortgage giant's $4.5 billion accounting debacle.

David Glenn is barred from working for Freddie Mac or larger rival Fannie Mae under the consent agreement he signed with the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. The two government- sponsored yet publicly traded companies are the biggest players in the multitrillion-dollar home mortgage market.

The penalty against Glenn was the first monetary sanction imposed by the housing oversight agency in its 10-year history, agency spokeswoman Corinne Russell said yesterday.

In other news ...

>> Jurors in the obstruction-of-justice trial of former star technology banker Frank Quattrone told the judge yesterday they do not expect to reach a verdict, raising the specter of a mistrial.


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[Hawaii Inc.]

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NEW JOBS

>> Private all-girls school St. Andrew's Priory School has hired nonprofit veteran Susan Kodani as director of institutional advancement. She will be responsible for development and alumnae relations. Kodani previously served as Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii president and Bishop Museum senior vice president of community relations. Kumu hula Michael Pili Pang also has been hired as a Hawaiian dance and chant instructor. He will focus on hula's cultural content through dance, chant, analytical studies, choreography and presentation. He has founded several hula learning centers, including the Big Island's Halau Hula Ka No'eau, a Hawaiian Dance Academy and Performing Company, and Hui Manu Le'a Hawai'i in Tacoma, Wash.

PROMOTIONS

>> Parent company MW Group has promoted Shaun Salvador to Salt Lake Self Storage assistant manager. He will assist with sales, collections, customer service and security. He previously worked in MW group's accounting department and has experience in management and accounting.

>> Westin Maui has promoted Sonya Collings from national sales manager to senior sales manager. She is now responsible for generating group business from the West Coast and Mountain states. Bettina Acock joins the company's sales team as senior sales manager as well. She will generate group business from the Northeast and Southeast United States. She was previously a Sheraton Molokai sales manager.

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