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POSTED: Monday, November 02, 2009

Lender CIT Group files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

WASHINGTON » After struggling for months to avert bankruptcy, lender CIT Group has filed for Chapter 11 protection in an attempt to restructure its debt while trying to keep badly needed loans flowing to thousands of midsize and small businesses.

CIT made the filing in New York bankruptcy court yesterday after a debt-exchange offer to bondholders failed. CIT said in a statement that its bondholders overwhelmingly opted for a prepackaged reorganization plan that will reduce total debt by $10 billion while allowing the company to continue to do business.

The Chapter 11 filing is one of the biggest in U.S. corporate history, following Lehman Bros., Washington Mutual, WorldCom and General Motors. CIT's bankruptcy filing shows $71 billion in finance and leasing assets against total debt of $64.9 billion.

 

Ward retail complexes add mix of new merchants

Ward Centers is bringing seven new merchants to its directory of more than 135 shops and eateries this fall.

Trends Jodhpur, offering handcrafted furniture from India, is now open street-front at Ward Centre.

At Ward Warehouse, Victoria Nail Salon is opening soon, while Hawaii Kiteworks, meanwhile, has a kiosk featuring everything you need to fly a kite, along with Waimea Sun, featuring tie-dye and custom-designed clothing.

Santa's Pen is now open at Ward Entertainment Center. Calendar Club and Go! Games opened at Ward Warehouse for the holidays.

 

UH receives close to $90,000 in agriculture grants

The University of Hawaii is getting two grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The department says the money, totaling close to $90,000, will be used to help solve critical organic agriculture issues through the integration of research, education and extension projects. The University of Guam received a $372,000 grant.

The funding is part of $19 million in grants Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced Friday in Portland, Maine.

Merrigan says organic agriculture is one of the fastest-growing segments of U.S. agriculture. She says her department and Congress are committed to helping the industry succeed.

 

Zephyr sale to group with isle-based investors closes

The previously announced sale of Zephyr Insurance Co. Inc. to an entity that includes Hawaii investors has closed.

Zephyr is Hawaii's largest hurricane insurer with 70,000 policies. All 17 employees were to be retained.

Zephyr was sold to Zephyr Acquisition Co., which belongs to Ocean Harbor Holding Inc., with operations in Florida, New York and Philadelphia; and MP Holdings LLC, the Hawaii-based investor group, for $31.5 million plus a contingent, deferred, earn-out amount, the company said in a statement.

 

Stock rallies fail to inspire risk-taking

An eight-month, 68 percent rally in global stocks failed to convince investors and analysts that it's time to take on more risk or dispel their concerns about U.S. economic policies and its banking system.

Only 31 percent of respondents to a poll of investors and analysts who are Bloomberg subscribers in the U.S., Europe and Asia see investment opportunities, down from 35 percent in the previous survey in July.

Almost 40 percent in the latest quarterly survey, the Bloomberg Global Poll, say they are still hunkering down. U.S. investors are even more cautious, with more than 50 percent saying they are in a defensive crouch.

 

Total recall

Roller blinds and Roman shades sold by IKEA, Bed Bath & Beyond and Hanover Direct were recalled for posing a serious strangulation risk to small children.

The recall includes about 90,000 Chinese-made faux suede Roman shades imported and sold by Hanover Direct Inc. of Weehawken, N.J., which is also known as Domestications. The shades were sold through the company's Web site and catalog between January 2004 and last December. For a free repair kit, call (800) 524-0597.

 

Coming up

» Today: The Institute for Supply Management releases its manufacturing index.

» Tomorrow: Major automakers report U.S. auto sales for October.

» Wednesday: Allstate Corp., Comcast Corp., GMAC Inc., Pulte Homes Inc. and Time Warner Inc. release third-quarter results.

» Thursday: Retailers report sales results. CBS Corp., CVS Caremark Corp. and Wendy's/Arby's Group Inc. release third-quarter results.