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Business briefs

For Tuesday, December 7, 2010

By Star-Advertiser Staff and News Services


Google opens e-book store

SAN FRANCISCO » Google Inc. is making the leap from digital librarian to merchant in a challenge to Amazon.com Inc. and its Kindle electronic reader. The Internet bookstore, which opened yesterday in the U.S., draws upon a portion of the 15 million printed books that Google has scanned into its computers during the past six years. About 4,000 publishers are also allowing Google to carry many of their recently released books in the new store.

HC&S sugar output grows in 2010

KAHULUI » Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. yielded 172,000 tons of sugar this year, up from 127,000 tons in 2009.

The company loaded its final raw sugar shipment for 2010 at Kahului Harbor last week, the Maui News reported.

The state's last sugar plantation has been in a precarious position due to heavy losses attributed to a long drought.

The board of parent company Alexander & Baldwin approved support for HC&S only through the end of the year, saying continuing would depend on improved results. HC&S General Manager Chris Benjamin said that while the company still has "a ways to go," the improved crop and better world prices take the immediate pressure off the plantation.

Barnes & Noble buyout offered

NEW YORK » Buying out Barnes & Noble would give its much smaller rival, Borders Group, a bigger and firmer stake in the digital world, but some analysts said combining the two largest companies in the shrinking world of traditional book selling could hurt both -- perhaps irreparably.

Activist investor William Ackman and his investment firm announced in a regulatory filing yesterday that they had offered to finance a $963 million bid by Borders for Barnes & Noble Inc.

Under the deal, Pershing Square Capital Management would sponsor a bid by Borders of $16 per share for more than 60 million outstanding Barnes & Noble shares.

Sprint to phase out Nextel in 2013

NEW YORK » Sprint Nextel Corp. said it will start phasing out the Nextel part of its network in 2013, a decision that follows near-constant subscriber losses since Sprint bought Nextel in 2005.

The shutdown should be complete in 2015. Sprint, the country's third-largest wireless carrier, had said it would eventually shut down the aging Nextel network but had not said when until yesterday.

Nextel's signature feature is its fast push-to-talk function, which resembles a walkie-talkie. It once made Nextel popular with outdoor workers such as construction crews. However, the network does not support fast data transfers, making it unsuitable for smart phones. Sprint plans to offer Nextel subscribers a push-to-talk function on the Sprint network instead.

The Nextel network being phased out has been an enormous burden to Sprint. The company has been saddled with the cost of running two incompatible networks, contributing to constant quarterly financial losses since 2007.

Feds plan to sell final Citigroup stake

WASHINGTON » The government said yesterday it will sell its remaining shares of Citigroup common stock and expects to turn a profit on its $45 billion bailout of the giant bank.

The Treasury Department said that it will sell about 2.4 billion shares of Citigroup Inc. common stock. The sale would begin immediately and would end when the government determined that it had received an acceptable price for the shares.

Citigroup received $45 billion in taxpayer support in one of the largest bank rescues by the government. Of the $45 billion in taxpayer support provided to Citigroup, $25 billion was converted to a government ownership stake that the Treasury has been selling off since last spring. The bank repaid the other $20 billion in December 2009.

On the Move

The University of Hawaii Foundation has hired Robert Saarnio as major gifts officer for the College of Engineering at University of Hawaii at Manoa. He has extensive fundraising and development experience, including serving as director of museums, curator of university collections at Johns Hopkins University.


Decision Research Corp. board chairman and sole shareholder Walt Simmons announced that Karen Yamamoto has been elected DRC's president. She will assume direct responsibility of finance and general administrative activities.


Hawaii Medical Service Association has designated the Queen's Medical Center's Comprehensive Weight Management Program as a Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery. CWMP has performed more than 600 metabolic and bariatric surgical procedures.


Re/Max Kai Lani has hired Jimmy Finley as a real estate agent. He is a green designee, Japanese speaker, and has his electronic media designation.


The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Chaminade University two Title III Native Hawaiian Serving Institution grants totaling $5.7 million. The grants will contribute $2 million for the current year covering 100 percent of the renovation of Eiben Hall, with emphasis on the Interior Design Department's facilities; and $3.7 million over five years to cover 100 percent of Chaminade's expansion of information technologies and related services for student projects.

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