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Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


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NEW JOBS

>> Hawaii Business College has hired Bradley Shields as admissions director and Dennis Lear as admissions representative. Shields will work with a team of five admission representatives to produce successful enrollment results and work with the local high school and business communities. Lear will be responsible for general admissions duties and assist with marketing strategies.

>> Bank of Hawaii has appointed Senior Vice President John Sheather to Pacific Islands division corporate banking manager. He will replace Vice President Mark H. Tokito, who assumes a new position as vice president and dealer commercial banking officer in Honolulu. Stephen A. Brock has been made vice president and country manager for the bank's operations in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. James "Hobbs" M. Lowson has been promoted to vice president and country manager for Bankoh's Republic of Palau operations.

>> Elizabeth P. Cambra has joined Outrigger Hotels & Resorts in the new position of corporate director of revenue optimization. Her most recent position was with Interstate Hotels and Resorts as regional director of revenue management.

>> Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties has hired Leilani Cunningham and Marti Hazzard as sales associates. Cunningham was previously Title Guaranty vice president and executive sales manager; Hazzard worked for Carlisle Clothing Consultant.



HAWAII

Economic, business outlook improves

Business confidence in Hawaii soared to its highest level last month since the late 1980s as 57.3 percent of those responding to a semiannual Bank of Hawaii survey said they expected a somewhat or much higher performance in the state's economy in the next year.

Most local business owners reported that they expect higher sales growth for their company and higher performance for their own industries.

"The most notable finding was that, for the first time in the survey's (15 1/2-year) history, respondents' expectations about Hawaii's overall economic performance exceeded expectations held by firms about their own sales performance," said Paul Brewbaker, chief economist for Bank of Hawaii.

A record 49 percent of respondents expected higher profitability in their businesses while only 13.8 percent expected lower profits.

The February survey, which received 437 mail responses from companies randomly sampled by a third-party research firm, has a margin of error of 4.7 percent.

Waipio swap meet seeks vendors

The Gentry Waipio Shopping Center is looking for people with stuff to sell at its April 17 Community Swap Meet. Booths are available for $20 for people selling new, used or craft items.

"It is targeted to the community. Last year we did have (sellers) from Waikiki and Hawaii Kai," said promotions coordinator Sherry Goya. Application forms are available from tenants at the shopping center, at 94-1040 Waipio Uka St. The deadline is April 5.

NATION

Google search getting more local

SAN FRANCISCO >> Online search engine leader Google Inc. is introducing a new system designed to make it easier for people to find things closer to their homes, paving the way for the company to make more money selling ads to small businesses.

The new algorithmic formulas, scheduled to begin working today, will allow Google to display more local information in response to search requests that include a ZIP code or a city's name.

Google says these geographic queries are now more likely to generate phone numbers and specific addresses on its main results page. In many cases, Google also will display an icon of a compass that can be clicked upon to open another page containing a detailed map and directions to the location.

Web surfers who want a broader selection of parochial information will be encouraged to visit a new gateway, http://local.google.com.

Fed leaves rates unchanged

WASHINGTON >> The Federal Reserve left short-term interest rates unchanged at 1 percent yesterday, noting that "hiring has lagged" and suggesting that it had become more uneasy about the weak job market.

The decision to leave interest rates unchanged had been widely expected by analysts and investors, and it reinforced expectations that the Fed would refrain from raising rates until much later this year or perhaps even next year.

Treasury bonds rose in value and yields declined after the decision was announced, mainly because jittery investors were relieved that the Fed did not expand on earlier hints it has made about increasing rates. Stocks, which had been trading higher before the announcement, initially gave up their gains before rebounding.

Since the summer, the Federal Reserve has kept the federal funds rate, the rate on overnight loans between banks, at its lowest level in 46 years.

Founder of video game maker Take-Two quits

Take-Two Interactive Software, the maker of the hit video game series Grand Theft Auto, said yesterday that its founder, Ryan A. Brant, has resigned as chairman and director.

The move comes months after Take-Two disclosed that federal regulators had informed the company of their plans to file civil charges against Brant and others in connection with accounting irregularities.

Brant's resignation is the latest turn in Take-Two's complicated fortunes. Brant. The company has been a success story in the video game industry, with revenue doubling to $1 billion since 2001 as its share price outperformed that of many competitors.

But regulators have questioned the company's accounting. The Securities and Exchange Commission halted trading in the company's stock for three weeks in February 2001.

Stanley Works probed by SEC over accounting

Stanley Works, the biggest U.S. maker of hand tools, said the Securities and Exchange Commission began a formal probe of certain accounting matters during the fourth quarter.

The investigation is focused on the company's financial statements for the year ended Dec. 28, 2002, which included $5.6 million, or 4 cents a share, of "accounting corrections related primarily to expense capitalization and depreciation in fiscal years 1999 through 2002," regulatory filings yesterday showed.

New Britain, Conn.-based Stanley Works, which also investigated the allegations, said it is cooperating with the SEC. Company spokesman Gerry Gould didn't immediately return a voice mail left at his office.

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