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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, September 9, 2006

BUSINESS BRIEFS
Hilton's bond picture better

Advertiser News Services

NEW YORK Hilton Hotels Corp., the second-biggest U.S. lodging company, may regain investment-grade ratings as an increase in travel enables the company to reduce debt, according to traders betting on the creditworthiness of firms in the credit-default swap market.

The perceived risk of owning Hilton's bonds has fallen by more than a third since June 22, according to data compiled by Credit Suisse Group. The decline is twice as large as the average drop for investment-grade companies, Bloomberg data show.

Credit-default swaps are financial instruments based on corporate bonds and loans used to speculate on an increase or decrease in indebtedness. Investors are becoming more bullish on Hilton, owner of the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan and Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu, after U.S. room prices rose an average 6.8 percent through the first seven months of 2006. Hilton also encouraged investors by promising to trim its $9.4 billion of debt.


BOARD MEMBERS BACK HP'S CHIEF

SAN FRANCISCO Hewlett-Packard Co. Chairwoman Patricia Dunn said yesterday several of her fellow board members want her to remain on the job despite a criminal investigation into her efforts to plug a media leak.

Dunn's crusade spawned a ruse to obtain the personal phone records of company directors and at least nine reporters. It put HP's board at the center of an imbroglio that threatens to distract the Palo Alto-based firm as it tries to build on a recent run of success in the personal computer and other high-tech markets.


OIL PIPELINE JOB WAS LEFT UNFILLED

WASHINGTON By the time a massive oil-pipeline spill was discovered in March on Alaska's North Slope, the job of BP's senior corrosion engineer had been left unfilled for more than a year, according to an internal audit.

This vacancy, and others, hindered BP's ability to maintain a "strategic view" of its corrosion-prevention activities, the audit found. A BP spokesman said yesterday that a replacement for the senior corrosion engineer has yet to be found. BP also left vacant the top job in its pipeline-corrosion oversight division in Alaska for more than six months in 2005, auditors found.


FACEBOOK BACKS DOWN IN FACE-OFF

NEW YORK Users of the online hangout Facebook revolted and won as the site agreed yesterday to let them turn off a new feature that drew privacy complaints because it lets others easily see changes made to their personal profile pages.

The backlash came over Facebook's decision Tuesday to deliver automated, customized alerts about a user's closest friends, classmates and colleagues. Users who log on might instantly find out that someone they know has joined a new social group, posted more photos or begun dating their best friend.