Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Wednesday, April 4, 2001


Japan plans disposal of riskiest loans

TOKYO >> Japan's government is set to unveil an economic recovery plan that will include a two-year deadline for the country's banks to dispose of their riskiest loans, news reports said today.

Banks will be given two years to write off $101 billion worth of loans that are clearly irrecoverable or are likely to go bad because the borrower is close to bankruptcy, the Nihon Keizai newspaper and other domestic news media reported.

The deadline is meant to force Japanese banks into cleaning up a bad-loan mess that has crippled the world's second-largest economy since stock and property prices collapsed in the early 1990s.

Japan Airlines sees decline in package tours

Tokyo >> Japan Airlines Co., Japan's largest airline, said late yesterday that the number of passengers on its domestic flights fell in February for the first time in six months on slumping demand for package tours. The carrier said its domestic passenger traffic fell 4.5 percent from a year earlier, to 1.8 million people. Japan Airlines is still trying to determine what caused the February slowdown in domestic package tours, said company spokesman Yuji Fujita.


Census shows women make gains in business

WASHINGTON >> Women strengthened their foothold in the business world during the 1990s, aided by the decade's strong economy and gains in education, a Census Bureau report showed.

Women-owned firms generated $818.7 billion in revenue in 1997, up 33 percent from 1992, according to the Census Bureau report being released today. The number of businesses owned by women increased 16 percent to 5.4 million over the same five-year span.

The data was based on a survey separate from the 2000 census, and was the latest available. Despite its age, it offered a promising glimpse into the state of women-owned firms today, said Carolyn Elman, executive director of the Kansas City-based American Business Women's Association.

Women tend to own businesses that are smaller than those run by men, the Census Bureau said. Two percent of women-owned firms had more than $1 million in receipts, compared with 5 percent of all businesses.

Women entrepreneurs tend to have less access to capital and are more likely to start up their companies using money borrowed from family and friends, Elman said.

Wal-Mart widens lead as top U.S. seller of toys

New York >> Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, widened its lead over other chains as the top U.S. seller of toys last year.

Wal-Mart, which knocked Toys 'R' Us Inc. out of the No. 1 spot in 1998, boosted its market share to 19 percent from 17.4 percent last year, according to research firm NPD Group Inc. Closely held KB Toys' market share fell to 4.7 percent from 5.1 percent.

Toys 'R' Us, the second-largest toy retailer, increased its share to 16.5 percent from 15.6 percent. Target Corp., JC Penney Co. and regional discounter Ames Department Stores Inc. also had small gains.

Banks' profits slipping as bad loans keep rising

Washington >> A slowing economy combined with a growing load of bad commercial loans and increased competition will hurt bank earnings in 2001, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said. The U.S. banking industry as a whole, however, is well positioned to handle a slowdown and is not at risk of widespread insolvencies, according to the regulator. Troubled loans, defined as those 90 days or more past due, pose the greatest threat to bank earnings this year, especially for large banks, the office said.



>> David Todani has been named vice president and treasurer at American Savings Bank. Todani will oversee investment portfolio management, asset/liability manage- ment and funding processes. Previously, he worked for Pacific Century Trust as a portfolio manager and for Bank of Hawaii as a treasury/investments officer.

>> Clement A. Valeri has been hired as a senior labor relations consultant and Neal T. Yasuda as a research manager for planning, coordinating and producing research projects and major surveys at the Hawaii Employers Council. Recently, Valeri was a contract negotiations specialist and contract enforcement administrator for the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union in Washington state. Yasuda was a wage and salary coordinator/senior compensation analyst at Straub Clinic & Hospital.


>> Sherman Wong has been promoted to the position of project manager at Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaii, Inc. He was previously a project engineer in the company's housing construction department. Wong will represent Castle & Cooke as a liaison at community forums and will participate in the evaluation and development of prospective residential projects and special projects.

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