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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 24, 2010

Another top exec departs Maui Land

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Over the past two years, several top executives, including Chairman David Cole, have left Maui Land & Pineapple Co.

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Financially hobbled Maui Land & Pineapple Co. has hired a new chief financial officer after John Durkin, who held the position for a year, resigned on Tuesday.

Maui Land announced Durkin's departure yesterday, and said veteran accountant Tim T. Esaki will take over as CFO May 10 with a $160,000 annual salary.

Esaki has been deputy director of Hawai'i County's Department of Public Works since last year. Before that he spent six years as senior vice president of finance and accounting for 1250 Oceanside Partners, which developed the controversial Big Island luxury community Hokuli'a that created 750 home lots primarily around a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course on agriculture land.

Before Oceanside, Esaki had spent 13 years with accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP specializing in hotel and resort operations and other areas.

Durkin's departure continued an exodus of Maui Land executives over the past two years that began with the resignation of chairman and chief executive David Cole in December 2008. Robert Webber succeeded Cole in January 2009, but resigned in May.

Since then, Warren Haruki, who runs Kaua'i firm Grove Farm Co. as CEO but is also board chairman of Maui Land, has served as Maui Land's acting CEO.

In February, longtime Maui Land executive Ryan Churchill was named president, a position Webber also had held. Churchill has been responsible for day-to-day operations of the company as it struggles to improve its finances after major losses and an exit from pineapple farming to focus on resort operations and land development.

Over the past two years, Maui Land has lost $202.7 million.

Earlier this month, the company said it would seek shareholder approval to almost double the amount of its authorized common stock as it contemplates financing alternatives to pay down debt and raise money.

Maui Land's stock closed yesterday at $5.23, down from $5.46 on Thursday. The stock over the past 52 weeks has closed between a high of $10 on May 11 and a low of $2.35 on Jan. 26.