Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire



Watanabe named to A&B board

Honolulu attorney Jeffrey N. Watanabe has been elected to the board of directors of Alexander & Baldwin Inc.

Watanabe, 60, is managing partner of Watanabe Ing Kawashima & Komeiji LLP, the firm he founded in 1970 that is recognized for its corporate-law practice. A former state deputy attorney general, Watanabe is a director of several local corporations including Hawaiian Electric Industries, First Insurance Co., Grace Pacific Corp. and MidWeek Printing Inc., which owns the Star-Bulletin. He also serves on the board of advisers for Oceanic Cablevision, a subsidiary of AOL Time Warner Inc.

A&B said separately that it will pay a first-quarter dividend of 22.5 cents a share, unchanged from a year earlier. And the company promoted Christopher J. Benjamin to vice president, corporate development and planning.

Benjamin joined the company in August 2001 as director of corporate development and planning. He has held executive positions with ChannelPoint Inc., AmMed International Inc., The Queen's Health System, Booz-Allen & Hamilton and Sony Corp.

Boyd Gaming profits rise

Boyd Gaming Corp., whose downtown Las Vegas casino hotels are popular among Hawaii residents, had a profit of $16.4 million in the first quarter of this year, more than twice the net of $7.8 million in the first quarter of last year. Most of the change was due to the cumulative effect of a change in the way the company accounts for goodwill, which trimmed $8.2 million from the 2002 first-quarter earnings.

After adjusting for pre-opening expenses and the goodwill change, the per-share profit was 29 cents in the quarter, down from 31 cents in 2002.

First-quarter revenues of $322 million were up 6.3 percent from a year-earlier $303 million, due mostly to new operations. Vacations Hawaii, the subsidiary that sells Las Vegas package tours to Hawaii residents, had first-quarter sales of $11.8 million, up 5.4 percent from $11.2 million in the first quarter of 2002.

Hawaii settles with H&R Block

KANSAS CITY, Mo. >> H&R Block Inc. has agreed to pay $3.3 million to settle a dispute with attorneys general in Hawaii, 40 other states and the District of Columbia over whether the tax preparer obtained its clients' consent before charging them for an accuracy guarantee.

Under the settlement announced yesterday, $2.3 million will be divided among the 41 states and the District of Columbia. An additional $1 million will be used to establish a consumer fund to provide refunds to eligible customers who received Block's so-called "Peace of Mind" guarantee in 2001.

Wal-Mart settles product safety case

WASHINGTON >> Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, agreed to pay a $750,000 fine for failing to report safety hazards in exercise equipment, the U.S. Justice Department said.

The U.S. sued in May 2001 complaining that Wal-Mart didn't report problems with Weider and Weslo brand exercise gliders after at least 29 consumers were hurt while trying out the equipment in Wal-Mart stores. Consumers suffered injuries, including fractured vertebrae, herniated discs and a compression injury to a woman's spine. The injuries resulted from a defect in the arm that supports the glider seat that can disconnect during use.

Wal-Mart also agreed to set up an internal monitoring system to keep track of information about product safety hazards.

Japan unemployment stays near record

TOKYO >> Japan's unemployment rate hovered at a near-record high 5.4 percent in March, as joblessness among the young peaked at its highest levels in half a century, the government said today.

Data from the Labor Force Statistics Office show the unemployment rate for those ages 15 to 24 hit 13.2 percent last month, the highest since the government began keeping track in 1953.

The country's overall jobless rate first hit a record high 5.5 percent in August 2002.

Mortgage rates fall for second week

WASHINGTON >> Rates on 30-year mortgages fell for a second straight week while other mortgage rates held steady this week. The average interest rate on a fixed-rate 30-year mortgage dipped to 5.79 percent, mortgage company Freddie Mac reported yesterday in its weekly nationwide survey. This week's rate was down from 5.82 percent last week.

In the week ending March 14, right before the United States went to war against Iraq, rates on 30-year mortgages declined to a record low of 5.61 percent.


[Hawaii Inc.]

New jobs

>> The International Partnering Institute has named Barbara Santos executive director. She also owns the Hawaii public relations and event management agency Santos!PR. The Institute offers educational support products on partnering, a system of building working relationships between people and organizations.

>> Gim Lim Jezierny has been named vice president for the Maui Theatre in Lahaina. She will oversee marketing, sales and operations for the stage production, Ulalena. Jezierny was most recently vice president at OCBC Bank in Malaysia. Maui Theatre is operated by Lahaina Myth & Magic Theatre LLC.

>> Hawaii 3R's has hired Yuki Lei Sugimura as neighbor island manager. She will represent the nonprofit on Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island. Sugimura's duties will include recruiting schools for potential projects, meeting with community partners and managing projects. She most recently worked in Maui County's Office of Economic Development.

>> HomeStreet Bank has hired Vaun Owen as a loan officer at its Maui branch. He will provide home loan expertise and services to home buyers. Owen has more than nine years experience in banking, most recently as a residential closing processor at American Savings Bank. 


>> Ludwig David van Broekhuizen has been appointed program director of the Regional Educational Laboratory at Pacific Resources for Education and Learning. The focus of the laboratory's $20 million, five-year contract with the U.S. Department of Education is school improvement through early reading literacy in the Pacific. Van Broekhuizen has served as associate director of the program since December 2000.


E-mail to Business Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --