Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Tuesday, April 24, 2001

American Savings Bank picks new president, CEO

American Savings Bank today named Kamehameha Schools trustee Constance Lau as its next president and chief executive officer.

Lau, who previously served as the bank's senior vice president and chief operating officer, will replace longtime American Savings bank chief Wayne Minami, who will retire June 1.

Lau joined American Savings in 1999 after serving 10 years as treasurer of American Saving's parent, Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. In addition to her duties at the bank, Lau has served as a permanent and interim trustee of the $6 billion Kamehameha Schools since 1999.

American Savings is the state's third-largest financial institution. Under Minami's tenure, the bank's asset base grew from $1 billion to about $6 billion.

Strong Hawaii business helps lift ResortQuest net

Strong business at Aston Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii helped Memphis-based ResortQuest International Inc. increase its total first-quarter net profit 48.3 percent, to $4.3 million, or 23 cents a share, from $2.9 million, or 15 cents a share, in the first quarter of 2000.

Revenues of $45.4 million in the latest quarter were up 17.9 percent from $38.5 million in the 2000 quarter.

ResortQuest reports as revenues only the money it keeps, such as commissions and management fees, after paying property owners their share. Lodging revenues, the total cash received before paying owners, were $119.5 million, up 18 percent from $101.1 million.

Hawaii lodging revenues were up 11 percent to $44.2 million from $39.9 million a year earlier. Hawaii occupancy averaged 82.4 percent, up from 82.3 percent.

Hotel occupancy falls on nearly every island

Waikiki hotel occupancy dropped last month for the first time since December 1999 as a softening hotel market spread across the islands.

Hotels in Waikiki reported 79.03 percent occupancy in March, a decline from 80.13 percent in March 2000, according to travel industry consultants PKF-Hawaii LLP. Statewide occupancy dropped 3.51 percent to 80.48 percent from 83.41 percent a year ago.

Negative publicity surrounding the teachers strike and the possibility of demonstrations at the Asian Development Bank conference next month create additional challenges, said PKF-Hawaii CEO Ernie Watari.

Molokai posted the only occupancy increase of any island, rising 2.75 percent to 62.49 percent. Kauai saw the largest decrease, 10.68 percent, followed by the Big Island (5.42 percent), Maui (4.41 percent) and Oahu (1.04 percent).

State unemployment falls to 4 percent in March

Hawaii's unemployment rate was 4 percent in March, down from 4.2 percent in the same month last year, the state reported.

Some 24,100 civilians in the state were unemployed in March, down 2.4 percent from 24,700 in March 2000, according to the state Department of Labor & Industrial Relations. At the same time, the number of people with jobs rose 1.5 percent to 576,300 from 567,400.

Oahu, the Big Island and Maui all showed lower unemployment than last year, while the numbers rose for Kauai, Molokai and Lanai.

Nationally, unemployment rose to 4.6 percent in March, up 3 percentage points from 4.3 percent in March 2000

Calif. start-up to test Hawaii's ocean for power

A Berkeley, Calif.-based start-up run by a group of university students is looking for capital to come to Hawaii and test the power of ocean waves to make electricity.

Sea Power & Associates recently won a $10,000 prize in a business plan competition at the University of California, Berkeley. The company is now seeking $2.5 million in its first round of venture capital financing.

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