Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Wednesday, February 3, 1999

Hilton bids to purchase
more hotels, reports say

From staff and wire reports

Hilton Hotels Corp., the third-largest U.S. hotel company, is reportedly in talks with Patriot American Hospitality Inc. to buy its Summerfield Suites chain and about a half-dozen other hotels for as much as $1 billion.

The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News today separately reported that Hilton is also discussing an equity investment of as much as $350 million in Patriot American. The names and locations of the hotels to be acquired were not disclosed in the reports, which cited sources familiar with the situation.

Dallas-based Patriot American has one hotel in Hawaii, the Park Shore Hotel in Waikiki, acquired 18 months ago for $24 million. There are no Summerfield Suites properties in the islands. Hilton's Hawaii operations are the Hilton Hawaiian Village and the Hilton Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu and the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island. Hilton is half-owner of the Hawaiian Village and a minority owner of the Waikoloa property and manages Turtle Bay for investor owners.

The talks come as Patriot American, a real estate investment trust, tries to raise money to repay about $1.7 billion of bank debt and other obligations. Patriot, which owns the Wyndham hotel chain, has also been negotiating with other investors for a $1 billion equity investment.

Grant to help build homes in Waiahole

American Savings Bank has been awarded $254,000 in grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle to build homes and apartments for 35 lower-income families and elderly people in Waiahole and Nanakuli.

More than half the money will be used to finance 20 homes in Waiahole Valley that will be built by the residents themselves with technical assistance from the Self-Help Housing Corporation of Hawaii.

Sales by check up 1.5% in Hawaii

Retail sales by checks in Hawaii last month were up 1.5 percent compared with January 1998.

Nationally, sales were up 1.2 percent according to TeleCheck Services Inc., a leading check acceptance company. TeleCheck said purchases by check account for 37 percent of all retail buying.

Honolulu-based WSF hires new president

James G. Caldwell, an experienced real estate developer, was named president of Honolulu-based WSF Corp., which is developing resorts and housing in Belize, a country bordering Mexico and Guatemala.

Caldwell, a former foreign service officer who helped develop Mililani for Castle & Cooke Inc. and served four years as managing director of Honfed Bank, will divide his time between the WSF corporate offices in Honolulu and the Belize developments, which include the Salt Creek Club, Mayan Plantation Ltd. and Mayan Resorts Ltd.

Feds hold steady on interest rates

WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve policymakers left interest rates unchanged at their first meeting of the year, betting that the nation's longest peacetime expansion can continue with no acceleration in inflation. The Federal Open Market Committee kept the overnight bank lending rate at 4.75 percent, where it's been since November after three rate cuts aimed at stabilizing markets rocked by international crises.

In other news . . .

SAN DIEGO -- Slow sales of its digital phone technologies internationally has prompted Qualcomm Inc. to lay off nearly 700 people, or about 6 percent of its work force. The cuts were made at all levels, but most were in the company's wireless division. Half the job cuts are at the company's San Diego headquarters. Qualcomm notified employees in one-on-one meetings yesterday.

See expanded coverage in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
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