Monday, January 10, 2000

Texas company
purchasing Ilikai

The Taiwanese-owned firm
is buying the Waikiki hotel
for an undisclosed price

By Russ Lynch


A Texas company owned by a hotel investor from Taiwan is buying the 35-year-old Ilikai/Hotel Nikko Waikiki, according to public records.

The hotel's owner since 1987, Japan-owned Jowa Hawaii Corp., would say only that a sale is "under contract" and confidentiality agreements prevent further disclosure. However a license application at the Honolulu Liquor Commission reveals the buyer is FIT Investment Corp.

State records show FIT Investment was registered Dec. 29 to do business in Hawaii, listing its officers and directors as Peter Zen and other members of the Zen family, with a business address in Austin, Texas.

FIT Investment and Zen have shown up over the last two years or so as buyers of such properties as the 1,400-room Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in Los Angeles and a Holiday Inn and a Gateway hotel in San Francisco.

Kenneth L. Spence, senior vice president of Jowa Hawaii, said today he could not comment on price or any other detail because the parties are under a nondisclosure agreement. However, he said that Jowa is working toward concluding a sale by mid-February.

Spence acknowledged that the confidentiality was broken to some extent by the license-transfer filing at liquor commission, seeking transfer of the Ilikai's hotel-general license.

Jowa Hawaii, a subsidiary of Industrial Bank of Japan, bought the 800-room hotel in 1987 for $69 million and later spent $40 million on renovations. Local hotel analysts' estimates of a probable price for the hotel run from about $80 million to as high as $120 million.

The hotel is the biggest part of a hotel and condominium complex developed by Honolulu financier Chinn Ho and opened in 1964.

The property still has about 500 independently owned condominium units.

Star-Bulletin reporter Rick Daysog contributed to this report.

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