Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Thursday, September 30, 1999

Mazda settlement includes Hawaii

WASHINGTON -- Mazda Motor Corp. of America agreed to pay $5.25 million for allegedly violating orders by the Federal Trade Commission and 24 states, including Hawaii, that require the company clearly and conspicuously to disclose car and truck leasing terms.

The civil penalty includes $4.05 million for alleged violations of a 1997 FTC order, the largest amount ever obtained against a company by the agency's consumer protection bureau, said David Medine, associate director for financial practices at the bureau. Irvine, Calif.-based Mazda also agreed to pay $1.2 million in fines and costs to the states, Bloomberg News reported. Hawaii will get $50,000 in the settlement. The FTC said Mazda's televised lease ads disclosed terms in small and unreadable print, accompanied by distracting images and sounds. Some of the disclosures only flashed across TV screens briefly, the agency said.

30-year mortgages fall to 7.7 percent

McLEAN, Va. -- The benchmark U.S. home mortgage rate fell to 7.70 percent this week, the third weekly straight drop, U.S. mortgage broker Freddie Mac said today. The average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell from 7.76 percent last week. This week's rate is the lowest since the last week of July. The average rate on an adjustable mortgage fell to 6.12 percent from 6.19 percent last week, and the 15-year mortgage average rate fell to 7.35 percent from 7.40 percent.

AutoNation plans rental unit spinoff

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- AutoNation Inc., the biggest U.S. car retailer, said it will spin off its auto-rental business as Chairman H. Wayne Huizenga struggles to boost its lagging stock. Stockholders will get one share in the new, free-standing company for every six to eight shares they hold in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based AutoNation. The car-rental unit, which includes Alamo Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and CarTemps USA, had 1998 sales of $3.5 billion, 20 percent of AutoNation revenue, Bloomberg News reported.

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