Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Monday, April 5, 1999

Aston's parent continues to grow

ResortQuest International Inc., parent of Aston Hotels & Resorts and more than 20 other vacation companies in North America, has acquired two more vacation management firms.

ResortQuest said today its portfolio now includes High Country Resort Services Ltd. in Crested Butte, Colo., and Mountain High Management Inc. in Whistler, British Columbia. The businesses were bought for a total of $3.7 million in ResortQuest stock.

Memphis, Tenn.-based ResortQuest was formed with an initial public offering in May to pool Hawaii-based Aston with 12 smaller businesses across the country. Since then it has acquired 12 others.

State seminar looks at Korean economy

South Korea's economy, in turbulence since late 1997, is recovering and the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism wants to show what that might mean for Hawaii, which lost most of its Korean tourist market virtually overnight.

The DBEDT and the Hawaii Korean Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring a lunch-and-lecture seminar from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. April 16, in the Bankers Club Boardroom on the 30th floor of the First Hawaiian Center.

The featured speaker is Kyung Tae Lee, president of the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy. The fee is $20 and advance registration is required. Contact Dawn Okuhama at DBEDT, 587-2750, or Se Rah Lee at the Korean Chamber, 596-9511.

Lucent to acquire software maker

MURRAY HILL, N.J. --Lucent Technologies Inc. said today it agreed to acquire Mosaix Inc., a provider of software for managing call centers, for $145 million in stock. Based on Lucent's closing price of $55.87 on Thursday, the deal values Mosaix's shares at $10.77 each.

Mosaix jumped 28.3 percent, or $2.37,to close at $10.75 today in Nasdaq trading. Mosaix, based in Redmond, Wash., had revenue of $110.1 million in 1998. Lucent is based in Murray Hill, N.J.


News for mutual fund investors


American Century fund strives for tax efficiency

American Century's new Tax-Managed Value Fund represents something of a departure for the company as tax efficiency has not traditionally been part of its fund approach.

Although the primary objective of the fund will be long-term growth, the fund's managers are employing a value-style approach, looking for solid stocks that they believe to be temporarily undervalued. Investing in a universe of principally large-cap stocks, the fund's charter is to reduce the overall portfolio's taxable gains as much as possible. Meanwhile, on March 1, the Kansas City-based investment house retired the names Twentieth Century and Benham fund groups and is now using the American Century moniker for all its funds.

Vanguard outpaces Fidelity in new cash

BOSTON -- Vanguard Group continued to race ahead of rival Fidelity Investments in its ability to attract investor cash, according to Financial Research Corp.

Through February, Vanguard garnered more than $12.8 billion in new money, up from $9.4 billion in January and February of 1998, FRC said last week. That compares with Fidelity's inflows of $4.08 billion so far this year, off from $5.44 billion in 1998. "Vanguard is getting a tremendous interest in their 500 Index Fund," said Donald Dion, publisher of the Fidelity Advisor newsletter.

Fidelity remained the nation's largest mutual fund family, however, with assets of $525.5 billion vs. Vanguard's $394.4 billion as of February 28, FRC said.

Mutual companies add TV studios for air time

BOSTON -- Many image-conscious mutual funds have added their own in-house television studios in the last 12 months lured by the opportunity of free publicity and instant expert status.

"It is a new trend starting in the mutual fund industry . . . there are more mutual fund companies, more competition and you're trying to do everything you can to get your experts out there talking," said Colleen Noth, a spokeswoman for Denver-based mutual fund family Invesco, a subsidiary of Amvescap Plc.

Installing a single camera and fiber-optic line opens new opportunities for fund managers and analysts eager to present their views and hawk their products to investors tuned to CNNfn and CNBC and other cable TV networks.

"There's no question, if there's breaking news for instance, and you want to get someone on the air right away it's advantageous," Deputy Assignment Manager at CNNfn Harlan Reinhardt said.

Since late 1997, Invesco, T. Rowe Price Associates, Strong Funds and Pimco Advisors have set up studios. Morningstar Inc., the firm that tracks mutual funds, is expected to open its own studio facility shortly. The nation's largest mutual fund family, Fidelity Investments, has had a studio for years as has John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co., parent of John Hancock Funds.

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