Apple cuts MacBook Air prices
, the maker of Macintosh computers, sliced $500 off the price of its most expensive MacBook Air model, the ultra-thin notebook introduced by Chief Executive Steve Jobs in January.
The costliest version, which has a 64-gigabyte solid-state hard drive and an Intel Corp. Core 2 Duo chip running at 1.8 gigahertz, now sells for $2,598, spokesman Bill Evans said. That's 16 percent less than the original price. The starting price for the Air with a 1.6-GHz chip remains $1,799.
Notebooks are Apple's most popular computers, accounting for 63 percent of all Macs sold in the latest reported quarter. The Air is its thinnest model, at less than 1-inch thick. Apple cut the price of the higher-speed chip option to $200 from $300 and is offering the solid-state drive for $599, down from $999.
"The options to upgrade a MacBook Air to a faster Core 2 Duo processor and a 64-GB solid-state drive are now more affordable," Evans said. He declined to elaborate.
A solid-state drive has no moving parts, making it more durable than other hard-drive technologies.
Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., also makes the iPod media player and the iPhone, which blends that device with a Web-surfing handset.
Pace slows for U.S. office rents
Asking rents for U.S. offices rose 1.1 percent in the second quarter from the previous three months, the smallest gain in almost three years, as job losses and a slowing economy reduced tenant leasing, said research firm Reis Inc.
The effective rent, or the amount tenants actually pay property owners, rose 0.7 percent, the third straight quarter it lagged behind asking rents, a sign landlords are offering concessions to tenants, Reis said in a survey yesterday. The annualized increase was 4.3 percent for asking rents and 2.9 percent for effective rents. The national vacancy rate rose 0.2 percent of a point to 13 percent.
"Behind the slowing rent trajectory, demand for office space has weakened dramatically," Sam Chandan, chief economist for New York-based Reis, said in a statement. Sublease space is increasing and potential tenants are delaying lease commitments, he said.
U.S. companies cut jobs for the sixth consecutive month as payrolls fell by 62,000 in June, bringing total job losses in the first half to 438,000, the Labor Department said yesterday. Declines in finance, the mortgage industry, housing, manufacturing and auto production are pushing down office rents and occupancy, Reis said.
H&R Block ex-CEO got $5.2M
KANSAS CITY, Mo. » Mark Ernst, who stepped down as CEO and chairman of H&R Block Inc.
in November, received compensation valued at $5.2 million in fiscal 2008, a 70 percent increase over the previous year, a securities filing yesterday showed.
Ernst was ousted after dissident shareholder Richard Breeden and two others were elected to the company's board of directors last September, charging that the company's diversification into areas such as mortgage lending had stolen momentum from its core tax preparation and accounting services businesses.
The Kansas City-based company said that it paid Ernst $698,045 in salary and $2.6 million in other compensation, most of which represented severance payments, for the year ended April 30, 2008. The other compensation also included $60,040 in life insurance premiums, deferred compensation contributions, retirement contributions, dividends and the economic value of an executive life insurance policy's death benefit.
Ernst also received stock and options valued by the company at $1.9 million at the time they were awarded.
U.S. loans hit Japan pension fund
Japan's public pension fund, the manager of more than $1 trillion of retirement assets, marked a record fourth-quarter loss as the U.S. home loan crisis eroded the value of domestic and global stocks.
Government Pension Investment Fund had a Yen5 trillion ($47 billion) loss for the January-March quarter. Bloomberg News calculated the fourth-quarter figure by subtracting nine-month results from the fund's full-year report released yesterday.
New hires / promotions
» Prudential Locations has announced the following new hires:
* Laurie F. Arakawa as marketing coordinator. She was previously a marketing assistant at First Hawaiian Bank and a management assistant at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
* Lisa Lee Matsuda as client relationship management program manager. Her previous jobs include regional marketing services manager for Hilton Hawaii, an account manager for StarrTech Interactive, and a systems consultant for NetEnterprises.
* Joe Segal as online marketing manager. His experience in Web site development, internet marketing and search engine optimization include Got Rankings in Hawaii, Discount Warehouse, Jewelry Network and the WorldWideWeb Institute in Florida.
* Alohi C. Shatto as a business development coordinator. Her experience includes leasing director at Equity Residential Properties and a personal banker at Wells Fargo & Co. in Seattle.
* Kimm Marie Teruya as a marketing manager in the client relationship development division. She was previously an account executive at Milici Valenti Ng Pack and an account coordinator for McNeil Wilson Communications.
» University of Hawaii West Oahu has announced the following new appointments:
* Ann Nishimoto as vice chancellor for administrative affairs and financial officer. She will oversee all budget and fiscal strategies including the construction and maintenance of the new University of Hawaii West Oahu campus in Kapolei, and serve as the university's legislative liaison for financial affairs. She was previously facilities planning manager at Kamehameha Schools.
* Lori Miyo Ideta as vice chancellor for student affairs. She will oversee all student affairs programs and budget and material resources for the Student Services Department. She was previously assistant vice chancellor of students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and associate faculty specialist and adjunct professor of the University of Hawaii College of Education.
» The Kailua Chamber of Commerce has elected 50th State Management vice president Evan Scherman
as president of the board of directors. He replaces Jim Mazzola and has been an active member of the chamber for five years.
» The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1186 has elected: Damien Kim, business manager and financial secretary; Peter Akamu, president; Tracy Hayashi, vice president; Michael Tanaka, treasurer; and Dennis Kaloi, recording secretary. Also elected to the board are Rebecca Navarro and Terry Uyehara, Unit I; Scot Ah Yuen and Alan Kimoto, Unit II; and Dalmas Jones, Eric Okazaki and Keith Yamashiro as at-large members.
Awards / certifications
» Financial advisor and financial planning associate Karen Igarashi
has been honored by Smith Barney's Blue Chip Council. The award recognizes financial advisors who demonstrate the highest professional standards and excellence in client service within their first five years.