Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Wednesday, January 14, 1998

First Hawaiian may lay off 50

First Hawaiian Bank said today that it may lay off about 50 employees as it continues a cost-cutting program it started last year.

The bank, which has more than 3,000 employees, wants to eliminate 100 positions in the first six months of 1998, but about half of that will be achieved through attrition, said Gerry Keir, a First Hawaiian spokesman. "We'll have maybe a small number of layoffs, about 50," he said.

Keir said the bank, like many local businesses, needed to cut payroll costs because of Hawaii's flat economy.

The bank started cutting positions last year when it merged its Pioneer Federal Savings subsidiary into First Hawaiian in April, closing 14 Pioneer branches. The bank found jobs for many of the Pioneer staffers but said it cut more than 130 positions though attrition, Keir said.

"We've really been at work at it for the better part of a year. We merged Pioneer into the bank and that reduced the position count. We're still doing it this year," he said.

American Air to join isle marketing effort

American Airlines today said it will contribute $500,000 to a special advertising campaign promoting Hawaii tourism.

The airline said the money will be spread over two years and is based on a percentage of the savings resulting from Gov. Ben Cayetano's two-year moratorium on airport landing fees announced in September. American normally spends about $1.2 million on landing fees in Honolulu and Maui.

In September, the special ad campaign was launched by Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, which pledged $1 million, following Cayetano's moratorium announcement. Aloha and Hawaiian airlines also have pledged money.

Dole building new headquarters in Calif.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. - Dole Food Co., the world's largest pineapple grower and one of the largest producers of fruits and vegetables, officially broke ground on its $50 million international headquarters.

Gov. Pete Wilson and Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Woodland Hills, joined more than 200 employees and community leaders yesterday at the site in Westlake Village, 35 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, where the 160,500-square-foot facility will be built.

"Dole Food has been planning for a long time now to build an outstanding world headquarters from which we will be able to communicate all around the world," said David H. Murdock, the chief executive officer who moved the 145-year-old company into four leased office buildings in Westlake Village in 1991.

Now operating in more than 90 countries, with national offices reaching from Los Angeles to Boca Raton, Fla., Dole will consolidate nearly 300 employees in its permanent headquarters and coordinate its operations around the world.

Dole was founded in Hawaii and still has major land and agricultural holdings in the state.

The company's three-story headquarters is expected to open by May 1999. It will feature a red-brick facade and skylighted atrium and will be equipped with direct satellite capabilities, a product-testing laboratory, research library, fitness center, auditorium, exhibit spaces, gardens and landscaped open spaces.

Struggling L.A. Gear files for bankruptcy

SANTA MONICA, Calif. - Struggling sneaker maker L.A. Gear has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection but said the move should not affect product orders or its fall 1998 lineup.

The debt-burdened company expected to file a detailed reorganization plan sometime next week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Day-to-day operations were not expected to be affected. The company said its leading bond holders have agreed to the reorganization.

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