Business Briefs


POSTED: Friday, October 23, 2009

China's growth runs at 8.9 percent pace

SHANGHAI » Lavish government spending and bank lending helped China's growth rate accelerate to an 8.9 percent pace in the third quarter, far outstripping expansions elsewhere around the globe and raising questions about whether the rapid rebound can be sustained.

China also announced yesterday that industrial production and investment spending are growing at a faster pace. That seemingly good news unsettled local stock investors, however, on fears Beijing might need to rein in its stimulus policies to avoid asset bubbles and inflation.

With China in the forefront, “;Asia appears to be leading the global recovery,”; Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said earlier this week.

Economic index continues gains

NEW YORK » A private forecast of economic activity rose for the sixth straight month in September.

Claims had fallen in five out of the previous six weeks, and most economists expect that trend to continue.

The Conference Board said yesterday that its index of leading economic indicators rose 1 percent last month after a 0.4 percent gain in August.

The Labor Department said the number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for jobless benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 531,000 last week.

Central Pacific share increase OK'd

Central Pacific Financial Corp., forced in July to scuttle a planned stock offering to raise $100 million because of its low share price, received approval yesterday in a special shareholders meeting to increase the amount of common stock it is authorized to issue to 185 million shares from 100 million shares. The increase was approved by 74 percent of Central Pacific's outstanding shares.

The parent of Central Pacific Bank has been seeking to raise additional capital because of what it foresaw in the economy over the next several quarters in both Hawaii and California. Due to the company's low stock price, which closed yesterday at $2.26, the bank needed the flexibility to issue additional shares to meet its $100 million target.

No date has been set yet for a new possible offering, which the bank said would depend on market conditions.

Separately, shareholders also voted to reduce the percentage required for future amendment approval from a two-thirds majority to a simple majority of more than 50 percent. The vote was 75 percent in favor.

In the meantime, Central Pacific has been proceeding with an equity-issuance plan using its previously authorized but unissued shares to raise up to $15 million.

A&B keeps dividend at 31.5 cents

Alexander & Baldwin Inc. has declared a fourth-quarter dividend of 31.5 cents a share that will be payable on Dec. 3 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on Nov. 5. The company has now maintained its dividend at the same level for the last seven quarters. The annual yield at yesterday's closing price of $33.70 is 3.7 percent.

Starwood profit declines 64 percent

MILWAUKEE » The travel slump sparked by the recession pushed third-quarter profit down 64 percent at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., which has been cutting room rates, especially at its high-end hotels, to try to recoup business.

The owner of Sheraton and W brands, like other hotel operators, has been trimming its own costs and slashing room rates to respond to the sharp downturn in business and leisure travel as companies and consumers try to rein in costs. Starwood has 11 properties in the state, including four on Oahu, three on Kauai, three on Maui and one on the Big Island. Starwood earned $41 million compared with $113 million a year ago. Revenue dropped for the fourth consecutive quarter, slipping 32 percent to $1.22 billion.

Dole raises $446M in IPO

Dole Food Co., the world's largest producer of fresh fruit and vegetables, priced a 35.7 million share initial public offering at $12.50 each, below the low end of its forecast range.

Dole raised $446 million to pay down debt, according to data in a sale document from the Westlake Village, California- based company. The IPO values Dole at $1.09 billion and its shares will begin trading today on the New York Stock Exchange after a six-year hiatus. Chairman David Murdock took Dole private in 2003 after rescuing the food producer, founded in Hawaii in 1851, from bankruptcy more than two decades ago.

The company which sells fresh bananas and pineapples, packaged spinach and canned fruit had planned to sell shares at $13 to $15 a share, an Oct. 9 filing showed.



Tesoro has promoted Dan Carlson to vice president and general manager of Tesoro's Kapolei refinery. He was operations manager at Tesoro's Golden Eagle refinery in Martinez, Calif. Also, Al Anderson was named corporate vice president and government affairs in San Antonio. He was vice president and general manager at the company's Kapolei refinery.HHH

The Honolulu Symphony Society appointed Majken Mechling as executive director of the historic arts and music education organization. She previously was executive director of American Diabetes Association Hawaii.