Business Briefs


POSTED: Friday, June 04, 2010

Mortgage rates inch up to 4.79%

NEW YORK >> Rates on 30-year fixed mortgages ticked up this week from the lowest level of the year.

Freddie Mac said yesterday that the average rate rose to 4.79 percent, up from 4.78 percent last week. A year ago the rate averaged 5.29 percent.

Rates dropped to a record low of 4.71 percent in December, pushed down by a Federal Reserve program that reduced borrowing costs for consumers.

That campaign ended in March.

Rates have fallen further as investors, wary of European turmoil, shifted money into the safety of U.S. Treasury bonds.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a record low of 4.20 percent, down from 4.21 percent last week.

Hawaiian Air most punctual in U.S.

Hawaiian Airlines once again topped domestic carriers in punctuality and fewest canceled flights, the seventh straight month it has led in both categories.

The carrier's on-time performance in April was 93.5 percent—easily beating the national average of 85.3 percent—and there were only two flight cancellations out of 5,333 total flights. In addition, Hawaiian also ranked second for fewest misplaced bags with 1.61 mishandled bags for every 1,000 passengers served.

Wal-Mart offers workers college plan

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. >> Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced a program yesterday in which its workers can receive college credit from the online American Public University and receive a tuition discount from the school.

The company also said it will commit $50 million over three years to help workers pay for books and tuition above the reduced tuition rate. After the reduction, tuition will cost $212.50 per undergraduate credit hour and $255 for graduate credits.

Wal-Mart Chief Administrative Officer Tom Mars said the program grew out of a larger commitment to cultivate talent within the company. The plan is open to domestic workers at Walmart and Sam's Club stores.

Alicia Ledlie, Wal-Mart senior director for associate development, said nearly three-quarters of Wal-Mart workers contacted in a survey said they preferred online study to attending a local college. She said Wal-Mart looked at 81 colleges and found American Public University, based in Charles Town, W.Va., to be the best fit.

Wal-Mart workers receive job training in areas ranging from ethics to retail inventory management, for which they can receive credit, Ledlie said.

Ratings firm Nielsen will go public

NEW YORK >> Nielsen Holdings BV, the television ratings and consumer research company, plans to raise up to $1.75 billion in an initial public offering, the company said in a securities filing yesterday.

Nielsen, which is based in the Netherlands, said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it will use proceeds to reduce its debt of $8.6 billion and for general corporate purposes.

Nielsen was acquired in May 2006 for roughly $9.7 billion by a group of private equity firms, which included AlpInvest Partners, Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Thomas H. Lee Partners. The company did not say how many shares it plans to offer or the price range it expects for them.

Newsweek draws bids despite losses

NEW YORK >> At least three groups of investors have made bids for Newsweek despite expectations of continued losses at the magazine.

Initial, nonbinding bids were due Wednesday. Those submitting bids include Newsmax Media, publisher of the conservative monthly Newsmax; Open Gate Capital, the private equity firm that owns TV Guide magazine; and Thane Ritchie, a hedge fund manager who made an unsuccessful bid last year for the company that publishes the Chicago Sun-Times. The bidders declined to say how much they are willing to pay.



Hawaii National Bank has hired Gregg Hirata as vice president and neighbor island regional manager. He has more than 20 years of accounting and financial experience, including as chief financial officer of CMU & Associates in Hilo, vice president and primary relationship officer at Bank of Hawaii in Hilo and senior director of production planning and accounting at Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corp.


Century 21 All Islands has announced that Sue Alden has joined its firm as sales associate. Her experience includes work as a real estate paralegal with several Honolulu law offices since 1990.


Pacific Air Cargo has named Trudy Tom as account executive for the state of Hawaii. Her experience includes broadcasting at KHON-TV, working various positions at Aloha Airlines and being Hilo station manager for Aloha Contract Services.


Graham Builders has hired Lucas Urtiaga as finish carpenter. He has seven years of carpentry experience.


Ralph E. Portmore was inducted as a fellow with the American Institute of Certified Planners at the American Planning Association's 2010 National Planning Conference in New Orleans. Portmore is an urban and regional planner with Group 70 International.