Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Chalet Kilauea owners file for bankruptcy

The owners of the once-booming Chalet Kilauea hotel and dining business on the Big Island have filed for personal bankruptcy liquidation, claiming assets of $2.1 million and debts of $3.1 million.

Brian and Lisha Crawford of Hilo started the company in 1990 on their credit cards and reported double-digit revenue growth in the latter part of the decade. But last year, the firm began taking on heavy losses. In June, the Crawfords closed three of Chalet Kilauea's restaurants, Surt's at Volcano Village, Surt's by the Bay and the Steam Vent Cafe.

The Crawfords' major creditors are the mortgage holders of their country inns, according to the bankruptcy petition filed last week.

Third class-action suit against auto insurer

A third class-action suit was filed yesterday in state circuit court claiming an auto insurer illegally used credit information to determine premiums.

The suit filed was filed against Allstate Insurance Co. by attorneys Tom Grande, Margery Bronster and Jim Bickerton.

Last week, the attorneys filed a similar suit against State Farm Insurance Co., the largest insurer in the state.

Another attorney, Bruce Wakuzawa of law firm Alston Hunt Floyd filed a similar class-action suit against Progressive Insurance Co.

The latest lawsuit is not the first for Allstate. Last year, the company was found to be in violation of state law for using the length of a person's driving experience as a criteria for determining premiums. That case is now on appeal.

The suit filed yesterday asks for an undetermined amount damages and also that Allstate issue a written notice to policyholders explaining how and why the credit bureau rating was used to determine the charge. It also seeks payment to policyholders who were overcharged.

Continental speeds up change to 767-400ER

Continental Airlines said yesterday it will speed up the launch of its Boeing 767-400ER aircraft into the Hawaii market, using increased fuel efficiency to help counter a sharp drop in travel after last week's terrorist attacks. Continental had originally planned to begin replacing its DC-10 jets by Oct. 28 and complete the transition in the first quarter of 2002. Now, the 767s will take over for all DC-10s on Hawaii routes by Oct. 1. The 235-passenger 767 is about the same size, but more fuel-efficient than DC-10 jets it replaces.

Japanese stocks surge on central bank easing

TOKYO >> Tokyo stocks advanced for the second straight session today, buoyed by the central bank's monetary easing steps. The U.S. dollar rose slightly against the yen.

The benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average rose 259.72 points, or 2.68 percent, to close at 9,939.60. Yesterday, the average closed up 175.47 points, or 1.85 percent.

The dollar bought 117.48 yen in New York, up from 117.23 yen overnight. The dollar ranged from 117.10 yen to 118.15 yen. Supporting the market was late yesterday's rate cut by the Bank of Japan, which joined a global effort led by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board to try to calm jittery investors following last week's terror attacks. The BOJ lowered its largely symbolic official discount rate -- the rate the central bank charges on loans to commercial banks -- to 0.10 percent from 0.25 percent

Radio chain suggests songs stations to avoid

LOS ANGELES >> The nation's biggest radio station chain said yesterday it had suggested a list of songs that its stations might avoid playing after last week's terrorist attacks but said it had not banned any music. A spokeswoman for Clear Channel Radio, which owns several Hawaii stations, said the list contained fewer than 150 songs.

She declined to specify which tunes were included. to be hit with travel slowdown

STAMFORD, Conn. >> The financial devastation that hit the airline industry following last week's terrorist attacks will envelop, the name-your-own-price Internet company that sells airline tickets, analysts said yesterday.

New bookings Monday and yesterday were off 40 and 35 percent from bookings on Sept. 10, the day before the attacks, the company said.

The impact on the Norwalk-based company will be huge, said Thomas Underwood, an analyst with Legg Mason in Reston, Va. Most of Priceline's business involves airline tickets, he said.

Before the attacks, Underwood projected a profit of 22 cents a share for Priceline next year. He revised that to 10 cents a share as a result of the financial damage to the airline industry.

Ford settles Explorer suit one day before trial

BROWNSVILLE, Texas >> One day before the trial was to begin, Ford Motor Co. said yesterday it reached a settlement in a lawsuit involving a rollover accident of a Ford Explorer with Firestone tires.

Specifics of the agreement were not released.

Margarita Gonzalez, 59, died last year when the Explorer she was in crashed near Kerrville after a tread separated on a rear tire. Her son, Alfredo, who was driving the vehicle at high speed, was left brain damaged.

Her husband, five children and mother were seeking unspecified damages for wrongful death, malice and gross negligence. The family had already settled with Bridgestone/Firestone.

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