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POSTED: Friday, September 11, 2009

Mortgage rates decline again

WASHINGTON » Rates for 30-year home loans ticked down for the second straight week, remaining close to record lows reached over the spring.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 5.07 percent this week, down from 5.08 percent a week earlier, mortgage company Freddie Mac said yesterday. Rates, while above the record low of 4.78 percent hit in the spring, are still at attractive levels for people looking to buy a home or refinance.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.5 percent, from 4.54 percent last week. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 4.64 percent from 4.62 percent.

Frontier sale to Republic OK'd

Frontier Airlines Inc. won court approval of its bankruptcy plan, clearing the way for the company to complete a sale to Republic Airways Holdings Inc.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in New York said yesterday he would sign an order confirming Frontier's Chapter 11 plan.

Republic, an 89 percent owner of Hawaii interisland carrier Mokulele Airlines, agreed to pay $108.8 million for Frontier and waive $150 million in existing claims. That bid beat an offer from Southwest Airlines Co. at an auction because Frontier's and Southwest's pilots unions couldn't agree on how they would work together. Southwest bid $170 million on Aug. 10.

Lower workers' comp rate sought

The National Council on Compensation Insurance has filed a request with the state Insurance Division for a 4.1 percent decrease in Hawaii workers' compensation loss costs.

“;Loss costs”; are a significant component of premiums and represent the amounts paid for claims by insurers. The other components that make up the premium include production and general expenses, contingencies, profit, taxes, licenses and fees.

The request would affect premiums beginning Jan. 1. If the filing is approved, insurance companies can choose to adopt NCCI's loss costs and then file their own factor for covering the other components that finally make up the premium.

“;This is the largest workers' compensation insurance rate decline of any state in the nation, except possibly those states that have enacted major statutory reforms,”; said Hawaii Insurance Commissioner J.P. Schmidt.

The reduction is based on a continuing decrease in the number of claims filed in 2007 (which is the last year for which complete data is available). Over the last four years, Schmidt has approved decreases of 19.3 percent, 18.2 percent, 12.3 percent and 11.6 percent in loss costs as evidence continued to show a significant reduction in claims.

This latest reduction brings the total decrease in workers' compensation loss costs to 65.5 percent over the past five years.

GM to sell stake in European unit

BERLIN » General Motors Co. will sell European unit Opel to Canadian auto parts maker Magna International and Russia's Sberbank in a deal that preserves GM's ability to develop new cars with its longtime subsidiary.

GM, which still needs regulatory approval, will see a 55 percent stake in Adam Opel GmbH transferred to the Canadian-Russian team but will keep 35 percent for itself, with 10 percent held by the workers.

Starbucks spares no Hawaii cafes

SEATTLE » Starbucks Corp. is closing 27 fewer cafes than planned after they proved more profitable than thought.

The company says about a fifth of the cafes that will be spared are in Texas. None of the 10 Hawaii stores that had been singled out for closure over the last year was spared. On the Big Island, those stores were Waiakea Center (301 Maka'ala St.) in Hilo, Mauna Lani (68-1330 Mauna Lani Drive) in Kohala and Kings Shops Waikoloa (250 Waikoloa Beach Drive) in Waikoloa. In Honolulu those stores were Malolo Sand Island (120 Sand Island Access Road), Victoria Ward Center (1200 Ala Moana Blvd.), Hokua (1288 Ala Moana Blvd.), Aloha Tower Marketplace (1 Aloha Tower Drive), Waikiki Shopping Plaza (2270 Kalakaua Ave.) and Borders Windward Mall (46-056 Kamehameha Highway). Maui Marketplace (270 Dairy Road) also was affected.

KHON parent bankruptcy plan OK'd

The second amended Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization plan filed by KHON-TV's parent company, New Vision Television, has been approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

New Vision issued a statement saying the decision signals an imminent end to the restructuring, filed in July, and that its debt and guaranteed obligations of more than $400 million will be eliminated.

ON THE MOVE

; » Outrigger Enterprises Group has announced the appointment of Janice Yee as corporate director for human resources based in Honolulu. Her experiences include vice president and director of human resources for Hawaii Health Systems Corp. since 1997; hospitality in bell services, employee relations manager and assistant director of human resources at Hyatt Regency Waikiki; director of human resources at Hyatt Regency Kauai; and vice president and director of human resources at City Bank, International Savings & Loan and CB Bancshares.