Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire




Companies look to future leaders

Companies are focusing more on planning for their future leadership, spurred by an aging work force and a sense of vulnerability, according to a survey by J. Howard & Associates, a Boston-based consulting firm.

Nearly 67 percent of human resources managers polled in the survey said succession planning had become more important over the past five years, while another 10 percent said such plans had always been considered important.

"For many companies such plans used to be just an obligatory exercise required by the board," said Tom McKinnon, an executive consultant with Howard. "But for various reasons succession planning has captured the attention of senior management."

Many companies realize that older executives will be looking to retire once there's an upturn in the performance of their retirement accounts.

Worm winding down today

NEW YORK >> A virus-like Internet worm that had crippled tens of thousands of computers over the weekend caused limited network disruptions today as employees returned to work.

Though the worm had been largely contained by Saturday evening, security experts saw a slight increase in attacks today as the work days began in Asia and Europe.

"There seems to be lots of computers which were off during the weekend and are now turned on," said Mikko Hypponen, manager of antivirus research at F-Secure Corp. in Finland.

Internet Security Systems Inc. of Atlanta saw another wave begin shortly after 9 a.m., corresponding to U.S. business hours.

The latest attacks, however, were nowhere near in intensity that of Saturday's outbreak, which had congested the network for countless Internet users and even disabled Bank of America cash machines.

Keynote Systems Inc., which measures Internet performance, said Web site availability appeared normal this afternoon after dipping slightly overnight, or during the day in Asia and Europe.

The worm, variously known as slammer or sapphire, took advantage of a vulnerability in some Microsoft Corp. software that had been discovered in July.

Fed investigation costs Stewart $400 million

NEW YORK >> Martha Stewart estimates the federal investigation into her ImClone stock trade has cost her about $400 million, according to an interview with the New Yorker magazine due out yesterday.

Stewart told the New Yorker that the losses have been mostly in the decline in value of her more than 30 million shares in her multimedia company, but also in legal fees and lost business opportunities.

It was her first lengthy media interview on the subject since news broke last June that federal prosecutors were investigating Stewart's sale of ImClone System Inc. shares.

Stewart noted that her image has suffered and said she is "puzzled by the public's delight" in her troubles.

Average U.S. gas price rises 1.5 cents a gallon

CAMARILLO, Calif. >> Gas prices rose nearly 1 1/2 cents per gallon over the past two weeks, an industry analyst said yesterday.

The average weighted price for gas nationwide, including all grades and taxes, was about $1.52 per gallon Friday, according to the Lundberg Survey of 8,000 stations nationwide. Gas cost just over $1.50 a gallon on Jan. 3, the date of the last Lundberg Survey.

Contributing to the price rise was the continuing oil production strike in Venezuela, a fear of war against Iraq, the intense cold weather on America's East Coast and the addition of a costlier gasoline additive in California, Trilby Lundberg said.


Daiei to close electronics unit

Kobe, Japan >> Daiei Inc., Japan's most indebted retailer and a beneficiary of two bank bailouts last year, will close its Palex Co. home appliance retail subsidiary and lease most of the outlets to Best Denki Co., Laox Co. and others selling similar merchandise.

Kobe-based Daiei is dropping home appliance sales and leasing floor space to tenants as competition from discount retailers grows, according to a Bloomberg News report. It named the two new tenants today after breaking off an agreement with Yamada Denki Co.

"Yamada is known for low-cost operations in the industry and the fact that the two couldn't work together suggests there were some problems on the Daiei side that couldn't make Yamada happy," said Nomura Securities Co. analyst Masafumi Shoda, who rates Daiei Stock "reduce." "Even with new tenants in, the question still remains whether Daiei can compete in the industry."




>> Hawaii Coffee Co. has hired Sharon Zambo-Fan as vice-president of worldwide military and international sales. She is responsible for strategic planning, growth and business development in those areas for Lion and Royal Kona Coffee brands. 

>> Stephanie P. Ano has joined CB Richard Ellis Hawaii Inc. as a property manager. She will manage the Kauai Village Shopping Center and the Liliuokalani Trust Portfolio in Kailua-Kona. Ano most recently served as senior community association manager for Kauai with another property management company, where she was responsible for preparing annual operating and reserves budgets and maintaining legal documents, fiscal reports and vendor contracts. Headquartered in Los Angeles, CB Richard Ellis has more than 260 offices in 47 countries.


>> The Cades Schutte law firm has promoted Daniel H. Devaney IV to member. He has been an associate in its corporate department since 1991.

>> Hawaii Business has promoted Jacy Youn to managing editor from assistant editor. She joined the monthly magazine in 2000. Youn will be responsible for managing the monthly deadline cycle, and working with Editor Cathy Cruz on story lineups and photography assignments.

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