Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire





Watumull buys 2 lots in Kapolei biz park

Real estate investment company Watumull Properties Corp. said it has bought two one-acre parcels at Kapolei Business Park in West Oahu from the Estate of James Campbell.

Watumull said it plans to hold the lots for investment and future development.

Earlier this year, Newport Beach, Calif., private investment firm Jupiter Holdings LLC purchased 91 acres of undeveloped land in the business park from Campbell Estate.


1 in 5 jobs pays below poverty level

One in every five U.S. jobs pays less than a poverty-level wage for a family of four, according to a study by the nonpartisan Working Poor Families Project.

The result of so many low-paying jobs is that nearly 39 million Americans, including 20 million children, are members of "low-income working families" -- with barely enough money to cover basic needs like housing, groceries and child care, the study found.

The study classified a "working family" as one in which there was one or more children and at least one family member had a job or was actively seeking work.

Besides staying current on bills, many of these folks also struggled to save up for a bigger home or for a child's college education, said Brandon Roberts, one of the report's authors.

"These 20 million children are the future of our workforce," Roberts said. "Their future economic abilities are at risk growing up in families that don't have the resources to support them."

Air Force seeks to widen probe

The Air Force asked the Pentagon yesterday to broaden its investigation into a procurement scandal to include more contracts that a former official acknowledged improperly awarded to Boeing, including a $4 billion contract to upgrade software on the C-130 transport airplane.

The request comes as Boeing faces new challenges as a result of an admission last week by the former No.2 Air Force acquisition officer, Darleen A. Druyun, that she had favored Boeing in granting billions of dollars in contracts in an effort to get jobs for herself and her family.

Druyun was sentenced to nine months in prison last week, after pleading guilty to violating federal conflict-of-interest laws.

Druyun's former boss, Marvin Sambur, the Air Force assistant secretary for acquisition, asked yesterday that the Pentagon's inspector general expand its investigation to include all Boeing contracts handled by Druyun since 2000, including the C-130 contract and a $412 million price adjustment on a C-17 cargo plane contract. Previously, the Pentagon had been looking only into contracts dating back two years.

China's wealthiest has $1.3 billion

A 35-year-old electronics salesman who made a $1.3 billion fortune in retailing and real estate has been named by a British-based financial magazine as mainland China's wealthiest businessman.

The annual list of Chinese millionaires, compiled by Shanghai-based researcher Rupert Hoogewerf, offers a snapshot of changing times, as entrepreneurs finding niches in light industries and services build up financial empires that are overtaking more traditional businesses.

Huang Guangyu, the founder of GoMe Appliances, China's biggest electronics retailer, parleyed soaring demand for appliances and property into a conglomerate that is now expanding into securities and trading.

In a list published today, London-based Euromoney put Huang's fortune at $1.3 billion. Chen Tianqiao, the 31-year-old founder of online games company Shanda Networking Development, was listed as second richest, with personal wealth estimated at $1.05 billion.

Virgin Group enters portable music fray

The consumer electronics arm of the Virgin Group is introducing a new 5-gigabyte hard-disk portable music player, bringing a powerful brand name in music to the increasingly crowded product space.

Virgin Electronics hopes its slim Virgin Player, which debuts today and is smaller than a deck of cards, will rise as a lead competitor to Apple Computer Inc.'s wildly popular iPod players. Apple dominates the portable player market that is filled also with choices from Rio Audio, Sony Corp., Samsung Electronics, and Creative Labs Inc., among others.

But few of the rivals have introduced a direct challenge to the iPod Mini model, which has a 4-gigabyte capacity. And that's the segment San Jose-based Virgin Electronics is pursuing -- people who may want to tote about 1,000 songs in their pocketable devices but don't necessarily need the whopping 20-gigabyte-or-more capacity of audio players offered by Apple, Sony, Samsung and others.

Chrysler recalling 955,000 minivans

Chrysler is recalling 955,000 minivans because an electrical problem could cause the driver's side air bag to fail.

The vehicles affected are the Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan, Plymouth Voyager and Grand Voyager, and Chrysler Town and Country from the 1998-2000 model years.

Four people have been injured in crashes because of the defect, according to records submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There also have been 782 complaints about the defect to Chrysler and NHTSA.



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