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Business Briefs

For Thursday, July 21, 2011

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:26 p.m. HST, Aug 05, 2011


90 potential homebuyers apply for grants

About 90 Hawaii prospective homebuyers have applied to participate in a program that leverages their savings with matching grants to help finance a down payment and reduce debt.

The Hawaii Family Finance Project administered by nonprofits Hawaiian Community Assets and Hawaii HomeOwnership Center on Wednesday said the response to the program launched in February has been tremendous.

Under the program, every dollar saved by an accepted applicant is matched by $4, or up to $8,000, for buying a home. A $2 match up to $2,000 is also available to pay down eligible debts. Free financial education training, counseling on household budgeting and tax preparation work is also part of the program.

To be eligible, individuals or families may not own a home or earn more than 80 percent of the annual median income for the county in which they reside. In Hono­lulu, the maximum income is $79,450 for a family of four. However, families with higher incomes also may qualify if they have net assets valued at less than $120,300.

The program is funded in part by a federal grant and First Hawaiian Bank.

HawTel cancels $300M loan to refinance debt

Hawaiian Telcom Communications Inc. canceled a $300 million term loan the company was seeking to refinance existing debt, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.

The six-year term loan was initially offered to investors at 5.5 percentage points more than the London interbank offered rate, with a 1.25 percent minimum on the lending benchmark, said the person, who declined to be identified because the terms are private. The loan was expected to price at 99 cents on the dollar.

The company was also seeking a $30 million, super-priority revolving line of credit that was due in four years, the person said.

Hawaiian Telcom wasn't willing to complete the transaction at the price the market required, according to the person. Credit Suisse Group AG was the lead arranger on the transaction.

Scott Simon, a spokesman for Hawaiian Telcom, wasn't immediately available for comment.

Real estate website Zillow soars in IPO

NEW YORK » Investors set aside housing market doldrums and rushed to grab shares of real estate website Zillow on Wednesday, valuing the company at as much as $1.6 billion.

Zillow Inc., which has never made a profit, is yet another beneficiary of strong investor demand for the latest crop of Internet stocks. Many of the recent market debutantes provide social networking, online games or search. Zillow's shares tripled in their trading debut on the Nasdaq stock market. Zillow had set a price of $20 for its stock late Tuesday. The shares rose as high as $60 before settling back to close at to $35.77, valuing the Seattle-based company at about $950 million.

The weak housing market did not hurt Zillow's IPO. Figures released Wednesday show that Americans are buying homes at the weakest pace in 14 years.

FTC paying $108M to Countrywide borrowers

WASHINGTON » Hundreds of thousands of homeowners who took out mortgages with Countrywide Financial Corp. will soon receive their slice of a $108 million settlement over claims that the lender charged outsized fees to borrowers facing foreclosure.

The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that it will mail refund checks to 450,177 borrowers starting today.

The action is part of a settlement agreement the agency reached last year with Bank of America Corp., which acquired Countrywide in 2008.

The FTC claimed Countrywide hit borrowers who were behind on their mortgages with fees of several thousand dollars at times. The fees were for such services as property inspections and landscaping that far exceeded market rates. Countrywide created subsidiaries to hire vendors, which marked up the price for such services, the agency said.

Record spending lifts American Express net

NEW YORK » Record customer spending on American Express cards led the company's second-quarter profit to leap 31 percent, American Express Co. said Wednesday.

The New York-based credit card issuer said its net income attributable to common shareholders rose to $1.33 billion, or $1.07 a share, for the three months that ended June 30. That compares with $1 billion, or 84 cents a share, a year earlier. Its revenue jumped 12 percent to $7.62 billion from $6.81 billion last year.

McKenna’s to hold adopt-a-pet event
An adopt-a-pet event will be held Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Mike McKenna’s Windward Ford in Kailua. The Hawaiian Humane Society will bring dogs and cats to be adopted.

There also will be animal-related information, a representative from the Humane Society to answer questions, and prizes.

ON THE MOVE

Hawaii Medical Service Association has promoted George Yamada to assistant vice president of claims administration from senior director of claims administration. Yamada will be responsible for oversight of HMSA claims processing operations, including compliance with the national health care reform law and other regulatory changes that affect processing functions and claims submission.

The Pacific Beach Hotel in Waikiki has appointed Leah J. Sherman as senior director of sales, domestic and international markets. She was previously with Hawaii Magazine's regional sales department as well as held operations, sales and training positions for Marriott International, Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. and Princess Cruises, and regional sales manager for the Pacific Beach Hotel's parent company, HTH Corp.

The Association of Records Managers and Administrations, Hawaii Chapter, has elected the following:

Wendell Elento as president in 2011-2012. He is a downtown sales representative at Xerox Hawaii. Also elected are:  Tracie Mukai, vice president; Pam Cabral, secretary; and Rosalie Brissette, treasurer. Directors are:  Blake Kiyabu, Kimberley Manning, Chris Harris, Gwen Massiah and Debra Musgrove, immediate past president.






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