Alexander & Baldwin to subdivide into two companies

By Howard Dicus

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The board of directors of Alexander & Baldwin Inc. (NYSE: ALEX) has voted to split the company into two companies, one by land, one by sea, and bolth based in Hawaii.

The company plans by late 2012 to calve off Matson Navigation Co., retaining the Alexander & Baldwin name for its other operations in agriculture and real estate.

Each company will have more than $1 billion in assets, each will have more than 1,000 employees, and each is expected to trade on the New York Stock Exchange, the company said Thursday. Shareholders will get stock in both companies.

"The increased size, capabilities and financial strength of both our land and transportation businesses now enable these operations to independently executive their strategies to maximize shareholder value," A&B Chairman Walter Dods said.

A&B President Stan Kuriyama, who came from the real estate side of the company, will stay with Alexander & Baldwin as CEO, taking the current company comptroller Paul Ito as chief financial officer and handing the presidency to A&B Properties head Chris Benjamin.

Matson will take Dods as chairman, and the current president of the shipping line, Matt Cox, will be CEO. The current company's CFO Joel Wine will also go to the Matson company, and retired Admiral Tom Fargo will join the Matson board. His appointment to the current company board was also announced Thursday.

The biggest operational change announced Thursday was Matson will be headquartered in Honolulu. It is now based in Oakland. This does not necessarily mean the Oakland back offices will move, but any relocation of work, however gradual, would mean more jobs in Hawaii.

Matson has by far the largest share of the Hawaii maritime shipping business, its China Express is the fastest maritime shipping line from China to Long Beach, and it also has a logistics division that helps customers plan and monitor shipping.

A&B Properties owns 88,000 acres of land, mostly on Maui, where A&B operates a sugar plantation, and on Kauai, where it leases a coffee plantation to an Italian food conglomerate. It also develops residential real estate and owns commercial real estate in Hawaii as well as on the mainland.

William Alexander and Dwight Baldwin arrived in Hawaii as missionaries in the early 1830s and their sons formed a company to grow sugarcane on Maui in 1870. The company acquired an interest in Matson Navigation in 1908, sharing ownership with three other companies, but bought full control in 1962.

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