Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire



Employees in limbo in waste-disposal merger

A major Oahu waste disposal firm is taking over another large Oahu disposal company.

Honolulu Disposal Service Inc. and a related company are taking over the assets of Horizon Waste Services of Hawaii Inc., according to a letter filed with the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. The purchase is set to close June 24. Horizon's 91 employees on Oahu will be affected. Honolulu Disposal will accept applications from the affected employees, but it was not clear how many may be hired.

Clyde Kaneshiro, president of Honolulu Disposal, did not return a call seeking comment.

Lingle to pitch Hawaii on networks

Gov. Linda Lingle and Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau executive Tony Vericella will promote island tourism in a "May Day is Lei Day" series of interviews with major television news organizations tomorrow morning.

Lingle and Vericella will conduct interviews from the beach in front of Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. Lingle is scheduled to be interviewed by Fox, NBC, Reuters and Daily Buzz, among others, while Vericella will speak with CNBC and various network affiliates.

In addition to the media blitz, HVCB representatives will distribute 2,003 lei in events to take place in Tokyo; Seoul; Taipei; Sydney; and Auckland, New Zealand.

Tesoro cuts 214 jobs, posts profit

SAN ANTONIO, Texas >> Tesoro Petroleum Corp., which operates six oil refineries in the western U.S., cut 214 jobs, or about 5 percent of its workforce, since September. The company also reported its first quarterly profit since 2001.

First-quarter net income was $20.4 million, or 32 cents a share, compared with a loss of $55.6 million, or $1.15, a year earlier, the San Antonio-based company said in a statement. Revenue rose 85 percent to $2.29 billion from $1.23 billion.

Tesoro, which operates the larger of Hawaii's two refineries and has 35 namesake retail gas stations in the state, has been firing workers and selling assets as part of an effort to cut debt by $500 million this year. Acquisitions that doubled refining capacity also boosted Tesoro's debt to $2.05 billion at the end of September. The recent job cuts are expected to pare annual costs by almost $20 million.

About $76 million in debt was repaid in the first quarter, and Tesoro is seeking ways to cut about another $300 million before year end.

No lilikoi cheesecake, at least not yet

Work is under way on the Cheesecake Factory's first Hawaii restaurant.

The 14,000-square-foot eatery will anchor the Ewa end of Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and should open before the end of the year, according to company spokesman Howard Gordon, who was in Honolulu for meetings on the project.

The Los Angeles-based Cheesecake Factory plans to hire about 350 Hawaii residents for its restaurant staff, according to Gordon, with about another 50 being transferred from other corporate locations.

The Cheesecake Factory has about 60 stores nationwide and offers more than 200 menu items at its restaurants, including 37 cheesecakes. Lilikoi is not among them, but the company will be exploring menu offerings that would be unique to the Hawaii market, according to Gordon.

The publicly traded company has been in expansion mode, with 14 new restaurants opening this year and another 14 planned for in 2004, according to Gordon. The average eatery in the chain serves about 3,400 people a day for average revenues of $11 million per store per year, he said.

The new tenant is part of an effort to broaden the demographic appeal of Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, according to Randy Yeager of Hawaii-based Retail Strategies Inc., who worked to bring the restaurant chain to the state.

Negotiator to meet with nurses, hospital

A federal negotiator will bring union representatives of 65 registered nurses and management of Wahiawa General Hospital back to the bargaining table today in an attempt to avert a strike called for Monday.

Talks between the two sides broke down April 14 after both the nurses and the hospital rejected each other's final offer. Major issues for the nurses are wages, health insurance contributions, mandatory overtime, retiree medical benefits and safety provisions.

Nurses say the salary and benefits package offer will no longer keep pace with those of the so-called Big Five hospitals -- Kaiser Permanente, Kapiolani, Kuakini, Queen's and St. Francis medical centers.

Negotiations will resume at 9 a.m. today at the Hawaii Employers Council.

Greenspan sees better growth

WASHINGTON >> Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says the limping economy should gradually grow stronger with the end of the Iraq war, but he's leaving the door open for lower interest rates if that doesn't happen.

Greenspan offered the House Financial Services Committee today his first detailed thoughts on the economic recovery since February, when the economy was feeling the strain of prewar jitters.

"I continue to believe the economy is positioned to expand at a noticeably better pace than it has during the past year, though the timing and the extent of that improvement remains uncertain," Greenspan told the lawmakers.

The economy grew at a tepid rate of 1.6 percent in the first three months of 2003. Nevertheless, economists were heartened that it didn't contract under the weight of war uncertainties, higher energy prices and sinking consumer confidence.


[Hawaii Inc.]


>> Charter Funding of Hawaii has promoted Brian Baptiste to branch manager for its Waimea office. He joined Charter Funding as loan officer last year. Baptiste has been in the mortgage business for 20 years, including about 6 years of managing his own mortgage company on the mainland. 

>> City Mill Company Ltd. named Charlie Nakama store manger for Pearl City and Vicki Lebowitz store manger for Kaimuki. Nakama has been assistant store manager for City Mill's Kaimuki Store for four years. Lebowitz had been the City Mill Pearl City store manager for five years. Her move to Kaimuki puts her in charge of one of City Mill's largest volume stores. Both joined the home-improvement retailer in 1993.

>> Tom Thomas was promoted to director of client services in the Information Technology Services division at Hawaii Pacific University. Most recently the assistant director, Thomas replaced Gordon Furuto who is now director of the university's Network Technology department. 

On the board

>> Suzanne White of Arcadia Retirement has been named president of Residence Comfort, Security and Independence Inc. Other new officers are: Vice President Lori Wells from Palolo Chinese Home; Secretary Sue Cornish from Eldercare Resources Inc. and Treasurer Rebecca Parker from M. Dyer & Sons Inc. Other board members include: Deborah Jackson, Kari Jo Hawkinson, Mari Y. Naito, Ruth Stepulis, Sandra Pohl and sister Michelle McQueeney. CSI Inc. is a nonprofit organization providing individualized money management and related asset management to Hawaii's seniors and people with disabilities.

>> Mark J. Bennet and James A. Kawachika have been named to the board of directors of the Hawaii chapter of the American Judicature Society. Prior to being the state's attorney general, Bennett was a partner at the law firm of McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon. Kawachika is a senior partner of the law firm Reinwald, O'Connor & Playdon LLP.


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