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Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Friday, April 14, 2000

SBA to honor top isle entrepreneurs

The U.S. Small Business Administration has named Les and Laura Sherril, who operate South Pacific Steel Corp. at Kapolei, as Small Business Persons of the Year for Hawaii. Their company, a manufacturer and supplier of steel goods for construction, has created more than 40 jobs, the SBA said. Other island winners are Elise Nakamura of Mihara Transfer in Hilo, for the Big Island; Warren Orikasa of Maui Carpet & Drapery, Maui; Wendy and Mark Oyama of restaurant Contemporary Flavors, for Kauai; and Melvin and Lynn Tanioka, of Tanioka's Market in Waipahu, as winners in the City and County of Honolulu. The winners will be honored at an awards luncheon May 11 at the Sheraton Waikiki.

Hilton CEO: Hotels shunned by investors

PHOENIX -- The U.S. hotel industry is out of favor, not only on Wall Street, but also among private institutions like insurance companies and foreign banks, says Hilton Hotels Corp.'s chief executive.

The private institutions' disinterest in hotels is compounding the problems of publicly traded hotel companies like Hilton, said CEO Stephen Bollenbach. Hilton stock has lost about two-thirds of its value in the past two years, adjusted for the spinoff of Hilton's casino business, according to Bloomberg News.

"The hotel business has always had a liquidity source that wasn't Wall Street," said Bollenbach, speaking at the American Hotels & Motel Association's annual conference. Now, there are few big investors willing to buy hotels at higher prices on the private market, he said.

Hilton and other hotel stocks have fallen as construction of new hotels has increased competition, making it harder for hoteliers to raise room prices and slowing profit growth. In years past, insurance companies, limited partnerships or Japanese banks, among others, might have taken the opportunity to invest in hotels while their stocks were cheap. Now, they're not interested, Bollenbach said. It's only a matter of time, however, before investors become interested in hotels again, he said.

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