What’s in a new
company name?

By Dave Segal

It doesn't always take a merger to get a company to change its name.

Take the case yesterday of Hawaiian Airlines Inc. It wanted to form a parent holding company to give itself more strategic, financial and operational flexibility.

Hawaiian Air When Hawaiian Airlines' shareholders approved the creation of Hawaiian Holdings Inc., the Honolulu-based carrier became the third Hawaii company to change its name in the last four months and the fourth in less than a year.

Aquasearch Inc., Pacific Century Financial Corp. and Controlled Environment Aquaculture Technology Inc. also recently changed their identities.

Sometimes a firm just wants to create a new image.

In July, Aquasearch Inc., which had been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, changed its name to Mera Pharmaceuticals Inc. upon emerging from reorganization under new ownership. The name, derived from the French word for sea, "mer," was meant to create a new beginning for the aquaculture company.

Three months earlier, Pacific Century Financial made the switch to Bank of Hawaii Corp. to reflect its renewed focus on its core market of Hawaii. The company, which has been streamlining its business, made the name change after divesting its operations on the West Coast and most of its holdings in the South Pacific and Asia. The company had changed its name from Bancorp Hawaii Inc. to Pacific Century Financial in 1997 to emphasize its expansion in the Pacific Rim.

Last November, Controlled Environment Aquaculture Technology changed its name to Ceatech USA Inc. because the acronym form of the name is more widely recognized than the company's complete name and is less cumbersome.

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