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Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Thursday, July 29, 2004


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AT&T lays off local workers

AT&T Corp. said it has laid off several call-center employees in its Hawaii office, a move stemming from its recent decision to stop seeking new residential telephone users nationwide.

"This is the direct result of regulatory policies out of Washington that forced us to stop investing in acquiring new customers," said AT&T spokesman Gordon Diamond.

AT&T last week blamed its retreat from the residential phone market on recent changes in a telephone competition rule.

Diamond would not reveal the number of employees laid off. He said the staff members were notified on Monday and left immediately. "Since we were no longer proactively marketing our service, we didn't need them anymore," he said.

AT&T's announcements were prompted by a decision last month by the Bush administration not to appeal a federal court ruling that struck down rules setting the rates that the Bell operating companies could charge to lease their local phone lines to competitors.

Without those rules in place, AT&T, MCI and others say the Bells will raise the lease prices by at least $10 per line, making it cost-prohibitive to expand such services.

City Bank parent raises dividend

The board of City Bank's parent, CB Bancshares Inc., is raising its quarterly dividend 16.7 percent to 42 cents a share from 36 cents, the bank said yesterday. The bank will pay the dividend Sept. 10 to stockholders of record on Sept. 1.

Meanwhile, Central Pacific Financial Corp., which is buying CB Bancshares, said it is maintaining its dividend at 16 cents a share. Central Pacific will pay the dividend Sept. 17 to shareholders as of Aug. 20.

CB Bancshares spokesman Wayne Miyao said the increased dividend reflects the bank's second-quarter performance, when net income more than doubled to $11.8 million.

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