Business Briefs


POSTED: Monday, January 05, 2009


Ex-Aloha shareholder ups bookseller stake

Ron Burkle and his Yucaipa Cos. private-equity firm, the former controlling shareholder of Aloha Airlines, reported an 8.3 percent stake in Barnes & Noble Inc., the world's largest bookseller, and may seek talks with the company.

Burkle intends to monitor Barnes & Nobles' performance and consider the option to discuss strategic opportunities with the company's board or executives, according to a regulatory filing Friday. The stake makes Burkle, 56, the fourth-largest shareholder of Barnes & Noble, based on data compiled by Bloomberg.

Barnes & Noble lost 56 percent of its value in 2008. Burkle said in the filing he acquired his shares of the stock since Nov. 24 because they were undervalued by the market.



TAGS Hawaii gets new owners

TAGS Hawaii Inc. has been sold to Donna and Nick Smallwood, the company said yesterday. TAGS is an automobile title house providing electronic and manual automobile registration services for automobile dealers, financial institutions, leasing companies and car rental agencies in Hawaii.

TAGS maintains an electronic registration program for new cars, while providing programs designed to streamline registration and related procedures for new and used cars.


World cotton use to fall 7.1%

NEW YORK » Global cotton consumption will fall more than forecast in December as textile mills in China, the biggest consumer, buy less fiber to weave into clothing and bedding, the International Cotton Advisory Committee said.

Worldwide use will drop 7.1 percent in the year ending July 31 to 24.5 million metric tons from a year earlier, the committee said today in a report. That was down from 24.9 million tons projected last month.


Madoff took $10M near confession

NEW YORK » Bernard Madoff accepted $10 million from a new investor just five days before he allegedly confessed to running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, according to a lawsuit seeking return of the funds.

Martin Rosenman, president of New York-based Stuyvesant Fuel Service Corp., spoke by phone with Madoff about investing on Dec. 3, according to a complaint filed Thursday in U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan.

Madoff, who allegedly confessed the scheme to his sons on Dec. 10, was arrested the next day and charged with securities fraud. His New York investment firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, has since collapsed, shocking clients around the world who face billions in losses.


Sears to suspend 401(k) matches

NEW YORK » Sears Holdings Corp., the largest U.S. department-store company, will stop matching contributions to its workers' retirement plans on Jan. 31.

Sears, based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., told employees of the change on Dec. 29, spokeswoman Kimberly Freely said Friday in an e-mail. The company will resume the 401(k) matching program when its financial performance improves to a level adequate to support them, she said without elaborating.

Sears is among U.S. companies grappling with declining sales as consumers besieged by shrinking home values and climbing jobless rates curtail spending. Motorola Inc., the second-largest U.S. seller of mobile phones, said last month its freezing U.S. pension plans and reducing executive salaries.

Sears recorded a $91 million expense for retirement savings plans in 2007, according to the annual report it filed on March 26. Freely declined to estimate how much the company will save by not matching employee contributions.