Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire



Federal grant will help disabled find jobs

The state has received a nearly $700,000 grant from the U.S. Labor Department to help people who have disabilities to find jobs through state programs.

The grant is the state's share of $17 million in Work Incentive Grants awarded to 42 organizations nationwide. The state Workforce Development Division and Vocational Rehabilitation Division will use the money for assistive technology to provide better access to information and services for those with disabilities.

HVCB courts meeting pros

The Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau will participate in a four-day trade show and networking event at the Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress in San Francisco Sunday through Wednesday.

The event is expected to attract 3,000 meeting professionals, the bureau said.

Mold continues to cost Hilton

Hilton Hotels Corp., which owns and operates Hilton Hawaiian Village, said second-quarter profit fell 29 percent because costs climbed and the Iraq war hurt bookings.

Total capital spending in 2003 is expected to remain in the $360 million range, which includes $35 million at the Hilton Hawaiian Village related to the mold situation. The company said the hotel's Kalia Tower is expected to reopen to guests in September.

Net income fell to $54 million, or 14 cents a share, matching analysts' forecasts. Revenue dropped 5 percent to $983 million.

Hilton trimmed its annual profit forecast, which it had lowered in March because the war led people to cut back on traveling. Health-care and insurance costs rose from year-earlier levels. While reservations to stay at its hotels have risen recently, the company said business travel will remain "sluggish" for the remainder of the year.

Stephen Bollenbach, Hilton's president and chief executive officer, said there were some encouraging signs.

"Sales results thus far at our new Las Vegas and Orlando time-share properties have been very strong, and Hawaii continues to sell well," he said.

Fastows fight trial schedule

Former Enron Corp. finance chief Andrew Fastow, who has fought to get a case against his wife postponed until after his own trial, is now opposing a suggestion from prosecutors that the two face tax and fraud charges at the same time.

Fastow, 41, tried earlier this month to persuade U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, who is presiding over his case, and U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who is presiding over his wife's narrower case, to schedule his trial as early as January and postpone hers to begin after his concludes.

Lawyers for Andrew Fastow and his wife, Lea, argued that his testimony is critical to her case, but he cannot testify on her behalf until after his trial, which has yet to be scheduled, on many more counts of masterminding accounting schemes at the energy company. Hittner, who had denied a similar request from Lea Fastow's attorneys, stood firm that her trial be scheduled for Jan. 27.

Small firm wins Microsoft battle

Settling a David-and-Goliath legal battle, tiny Immersion Corp. yesterday said software giant Microsoft Corp. will pay $26 million to license technology that brings a more realistic touch to the Xbox video-game system.

The agreement represents a coup for Immersion, a San Jose-based company with just $20 million in revenue after a decade in business. Besides receiving a large royalty payment, Immersion gains the cachet of Microsoft investment.

Japan's jobless rate falls, spending jumps

Japan's unemployment rate fell in June for the first time in four months and household spending had its biggest gain in almost two decades, adding to signs that the world's second-largest economy may avoid a recession.

The jobless rate fell to 5.3 percent from 5.4 percent in May as the economy added 470,000 jobs. Spending by households headed by a salaried worker rose 4.8 percent in June from May, seasonally adjusted, the most since February 1984, the government's statistics bureau said in Tokyo.

Yahoo Japan Corp. and other telecommunications companies hired more workers as people signed up for high-speed and wireless Internet services. Confidence in the job market is boosting consumer spending, which makes up more than half of the economy.

Saturn to market vehicles on QVC

General Motors Corp., the world's largest automaker by sales, will market Saturn cars and trucks on the QVC television home-shopping channel next week to try to attract more women to the unprofitable division's vehicles.

The 55-minute advertising program will air next Tuesday evening and will offer incentives to buyers, said Chuck Thomson, the division's executive director of marketing. He wouldn't disclose the incentives or cost of the ad, which he said is the first by an automaker on QVC.

In other news ...

>> Japan's busiest international airport at Narita handled a third fewer passengers on overseas flights last month amid lingering fears of SARS.


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