Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Monday, December 14, 1998

McFarms of Hawaii back in Australia

MacFarms of Hawaii has re-acquired its MacFarms of Australia brand and selling rights it sold several years ago to the Australian Peninsula Group. MacFarms of Hawaii, owned by Campbell Soups of Camden, N.J., will be selling Hawaii chocolate products in Australia again starting next year, said Rick Vidgen, MacFarms president.

United passengers get isle magazine

Hawaii-bound passengers on United Airlines flights from Chicago, San Francisco or Los Angeles are now getting free copies of Destinations Hawaii, a color magazine about Oahu. The quarterly magazine uses Hawaii writers and photographers and is published by Theme Communications in Salt Lake City.

HMSA refunds dues to its customers

Making good on a promise its board of directors made in May, the Hawaii Medical Services Association is refunding half the December health-plan dues employers and members will pay. The refunds total $22 million, HMSA said. The mutual benefit health plan organization, which insures some 600,000 people, said the one-time refund will go to employer groups and members who have had prepaid plans in place since July of last year and are current with their payments.

In other news . . .

Kelvin Bloom, former president of Castle Resorts & Hotels, has been appointed executive vice president of Aston Hotels & Resorts . . . The Honolulu Board of Realtors named Norman Noguchi of Marcus & Associates as 1998 Realtor of the year . . . Pacific International Center for High Technology Research received a $510,000 grant from the government of Japan . . . Char-les Schwab Corp. said it agreed to buy Canada's Priority Brokerage Inc. and Porthmeor Securities Inc. . . . RJR Nabisco Holdings Corp. said it will take a $348 million in fourth-quarter charges, mostly to fire 4,260 employees.

Tapa

On the 'Net

Vanguard offers online trading to customers

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. -- Vanguard Group, the No. 2 mutual fund company, has matched No. 1 Fidelity Investments by launching online stock trading for its 10 million account holders.

The Vanguard Brokerage Services portion of www.vanguard .com, called Access VBS, also features advice and financial planning tools. Trades cost $20, or 2 cents a share, whichever is greater, Vanguard said.

For Vanguard customers, that's cheaper than other methods. Trades via automated touch-tone telephone cost at least $40, while trades made by speaking to the Vanguard orders desk cost $45 plus 3 cents per share. Online stockbrokers charge an average commission of $15.75 per trade, according to Credit Suisse First Boston.

Vanguard needs to provide incentives for customers to use its telephone and online trading, which it established to retain more of their customers' money, said Joseph Rizzello, principal in charge of Vanguard Brokerage Services, the fund company's 200-person discount brokerage arm.

Schwab bans Internet trading of some stocks

SAN FRANCISCO -- Charles Schwab Corp., the biggest online brokerage, said it won't allow its customers to trade some Internet stocks over the Internet. Other brokerages also have taken similar actions recently.

Schwab has notified customers on its Web site that they may not place trades online for Infinity Broadcasting Corp. and three recent or pending initial public offerings of Internet stocks.

"These securities have been removed from electronic trading due to expected volatility and fast-market conditions," Schwab said in a notice posted on its Web site late last week.

"Volatility and fast-market conditions could result in price quotes significantly different from current trading prices and cause delays in reports of order execution."

On the no-trade list are Internet America Inc. and Abovenet Communications Inc., Internet companies that first sold shares Wednesday, and Infospace.com Inc., which may sell shares this week. Infinity, which went public Wednesday as well, also is on the no-trade list.

TheStreet.com ponders going public next year

NEW YORK -- TheStreet.com will consider selling shares to the public next year, the chief executive of the Internet financial news publication said.

"Going public in 1999 "is a strong possibility, depending on market conditions and other variables," said Kevin English.

Meanwhile, MarketWatch.com Inc., operator of CBS.Marketwatch.com financial news site, is planning an initial public offering. It plans to sell 2.75 million common shares for between $10 and $12, according to documents it filed with the U.S. government.

Discount brokerage to begin IPOs on the Web

NEW YORK -- National Discount Brokers Group Inc. will begin initial public offerings over the Internet in early 1999 through an agreement with online investment bank Wit Capital, NDB said.

"We look at this as the expansion or extension of our range of products and services with the addition of IPOs," said Neville Golvala, a NDS managing director. Wit recently signed similar three-year pacts with other brokerages as part of its plan to open up IPOs to small investors through an Internet-based syndicate.

In other news . . .

ETrade Group Inc. said it's introducing bond trading for retail customers through its Web site, www.etrade.com, matching larger rival Charles Schwab, which launched online bond trading in 1996 . . . Dataquest Inc. estimated worldwide online retailing will reach $2.35 billion for the 1998 holiday season . . Lycos Inc., which made its name running a Web site that directed consumers to buy products elsewhere on the Internet, has opened its own online store.



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