Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire


Mera gets preliminary OK for China plant

Mera Pharmaceuticals Inc., which last month emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, said yesterday it has received preliminary approval for a production plant it plans to build in China.

The aquaculture company, formerly known as Aquasearch Inc., plans to move most of its production to Sanya, China, when the plant is completed in the next 12 to 18 months. Rich Propper, chairman and acting chief executive of Mera, said he hopes to get final approval from China within 30 days.

In the meantime, Mera, which produces the microalgae-grown nutraceutical AstaFactor, has begun interviewing applicants for about 17 positions it intends to fill at it Kona facility. The number, higher than the original estimate of eight to 10, will increase the total number of employees with the company to about 35. The company still is continuing its search for a permanent CEO.

Housekeepers picket union headquarters

Hotel union leader Eric Gill's long-standing opposition to the subcontracting of hotel jobs to companies has drawn fire from a cleaning company.

The issue comes as the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 5 is headed for a strike authorization vote on Tuesday against Hilton and Sheraton. The union is negotiating contracts with the hotels.

Team Clean supporters staged an informational picket Tuesday afternoon in front of Local 5 headquarters in Waikiki.

In a statement, employees of subcontractor Team Clean Inc. said they were told four months ago by Local 5 business representatives that Local 5 would support the company's contract. But, according to Team Clean, Gill has "vowed to have Team Clean and all of its employees thrown out of the hotel industry here in Hawaii, resulting in the potential loss of over 225 badly needed jobs in the islands."

Gill, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, has reportedly denied the accusation. In recent union elections, Gill has consistently and publicly fought against subcontracting.

The company's employees are dues-paying members of Local 5, but are generally paid less than hotel employees. One classification of housekeeper starts at $11.56 an hour for Team Clean, while Local 5 members start at $12.77 under the expired contract with Waikiki hotels. Plus, Team Clean employees have no paid holidays.

Top ML Macadamia shareholder ups stake

ML Macadamia Orchards LP's largest shareholder, Fred Ebrahimi and his family, raised their stake in the Hawaii grower of macadamia nuts to 7.8 percent from 6.4 percent reported in June.

Ebrahimi and his family members bought shares in the Hilo-based company between June 5 and Aug. 2 for $3.27 to $3.80 a share, according to a Schedule 13D filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ebrahimi is the president of Denver-based Quark Inc., a closely held company that makes the publishing software QuarkXPress, according to a Bloomberg News report.

Ebrahimi now controls 582,500 ML Macadamia Orchards shares.

ML Macadamia Orchards shares, which have risen about 6 percent since the beginning of the year, closed down 5 cents to $3.35 on the New York Stock Exchange.


Galeotos to head Cendant travel unit

New York >> Cendant Corp. has promoted Sam Galeotos to president and chief executive of its Galileo International travel reservation business.

Galeotos joined New York-based Cendant when the company bought Cheap Tickets Inc. Galeotos was chief executive officer of the discount travel retailer, which was founded in Hawaii.

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