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A New Focus for Alexander and Baldwin

billsoPHOTO / Flickr
billsoPHOTO / Flickr
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Allie_Caulfield / Flickr
Credit Allie_Caulfield / Flickr
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Alexander & Baldwin sugar cane factory on Maui.

Alexander & Baldwin, one of Hawaii’s oldest companies, will have a new CEO come January first. Pacific Business News’s editor in chief, A. Kam Napier, has more.?

Chris Benjamin is Alexander & Baldwin’s current President and Chief Operating Officer.  When CEO Stanley Kuriyama retires at the end of the year, Benjamin will move into the top spot.  

Succession planning at the 145-year-old company is a slow and careful process, and the company tends to promote from within – tapping people with extensive leadership experience throughout the company.  In Benjamin’s 15-years with A&B, he has served as corporate development officer, General Manager of A&B’s Maui sugar operation HC&S, Chief Financial Officer, and for 4 years – President of A&B’s real estate subsidiary, A&B Properties Inc.

That last position is key.  Real estate is at the heart of A&B’s business strategy.  High profile deals in recent years have included buying most of the commercial core of Kailua town and acquiring the 30 distressed homes of Japanese businessman Genshiro Kawamoto.

Both moves are part of a larger ongoing plan to divest from holdings on the mainland in favor of real estate investments in Hawaii.  The publically traded company, valued at more than $1.6-billion is the states 4th largest landowner.  It holds some 88-thousand acres – and is the second largest owner of retail property in the islands.

Another step in A&B’s concentration on real estate was spinning off it’s transportation business – Matson Inc., as a separate company 3 years ago.

Expect more real estate investment in the future – and perhaps expect to be surprised by what A&B picks up.  One characteristics of A&B’s strategy going forward is an interest in acquiring properties that aren’t necessarily on the market. 

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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