Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Thursday, April 15, 1999

Bankruptcy bills mount for retailer

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Lloyd King today approved $1.7 million in fees billed to Liberty House in the second round of payments to lawyers, accountants and other professionals in the year-old case.

The billings, from October through January, bring the total to $5,117,668 for professional fees and expenses since the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy was filed in March 1998. The first round of requests, approved in December, came to $3,398,086. While the bankruptcy appears to be entering its final stage with the filing this week of a reorganization plan, total fees will likely eclipse the $5.4 million cost of the Hawaiian Airlines' Chapter 11 reorganization in 1993.

Topping the list of individual fee applicants this time was New York consulting firm Zolfo Cooper, billing $642,852 for services and $76,962 for expenses. Next was Los Angeles law firm Hennigan Mercer & Bennett, billing $238,240 for services and $32,027 for expenses. Honolulu public relations firm Communications Pacific charged the company $89,058 in fees and $1,229 in expenses for its services during the four-month period.

Mortgage rates decline to 6.87%

WASHINGTON -- The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages declined this week to the lowest level since mid-February. The average was 6.87 percent, down from 6.92 percent last week and the lowest in eight weeks, Freddie Mac said today. Fifteen-year mortgages averaged 6.47 percent this week, also an eight-week low and down from 6.53 percent. One-year, adjustable-rate mortgages averaged initial rate of 5.56 percent, a four-month low and down from 5.56 percent.

In other news . . .

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Mattel Inc. will lay off 3,000 workers and close a number of its plants as part of a restructuring that comes as the world's largest toy maker struggles to revive sales and profits. Mattel posted today a net loss of $17.9 million, or 7 cents per share, for the quarter ending March 31, compared with a profit of $12.7 million for the same period last year.

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