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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 2:50 p.m., Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Ala Moana Hotel to be sold

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

Azabu USA, a Japanese real estate firm that was once one of Hawai'i's largest hotel owners, is selling the Ala Moana Hotel.

Azabu expects to sell the 1,250-room property across from Ala Moana Center on Atkinson Drive to an undisclosed buyer, according to a notice sent to employees.

The transaction, for an undisclosed price, is expected to be complete no earlier than Sept. 15, with employees being rehired by the new owner under the same terms they have with Azabu, the notice said.

The hotel is the remaining testament to the late-'80s real estate acquisition spree by Azabu, which spent roughly $565 million snapping up six Hawai'i hotels and other property including the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, Maui Marriott and Kona Lagoon Hotel.

But the purchases, made with highly leveraged loans, created trouble for the company during the state's economic malaise and Japanese financial crisis in the '90s. Azabu slowly lost control of all but two of its hotels to lenders.

Azabu still owns Hyatt Regency Waikiki and was also able to hang on to the Ala Moana Hotel, which it bought for $70 million in 1986 and spent another $31 million on renovations.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8065.