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A&B makes new appointments in agribusiness segment


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POSTED: Saturday, March 14, 2009

Alexander & Baldwin Inc. has reorganized its agribusiness segment which includes Hawaii's only remaining sugar company, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.

Senior Vice President Christopher Benjamin will assume general manager duties at HC&S in addition to his duties as A&B chief financial officer and treasurer.

Former HC&S General Manager Frank Kiger will lead the company's Maui Brand Sugar operations, which the company identifies as a key growth area.

“;HC&S is going through the most difficult period in its history, having suffered record-setting droughts in 2007 and 2008 and an unprecedented rise in the cost of fuel and basic commodities it uses to produce sugar and power,”; said Stanley Kuriyama, A&B president.

“;In addition, recent regulatory decisions have severely impacted power sales revenue and other parts of our business, while suppressed raw sugar prices limit our earnings potential in the near term.”;

The agribusiness unit lost nearly $13 million in 2008, mostly through HC&S, which anticipates greater losses in 2009 due to the prior droughts resulting in lower yields, as well as what the company termed a significant pension-cost increase due to the 2008 decline in pension asset values and revenue reductions in power sales.

“;We are at a pivotal point, and Chris is the right person to lead HC&S,”; Kuriyama said.

Meanwhile, having Kiger “;focus 100 percent on Maui Brand Sugar is strategic to HC&S' future,”; he said.

Additionally, G. Stephen Holaday will retire as president of A&B Agribusiness April 15 after 26 years with the company.

The Kauai Coffee Co., Kahului Trucking & Storage and Kauai Commercial Co. divisions will report to Kuriyama on an interim basis.