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Maui Prince Hotel Placed Under Receivership

September 9, 2009 By: Jena Tesse Fox

The Maui Prince Hotel Makena Resort was placed under receivership by 2nd Circuit Court Judge Shackley Raffetto, who gave his preliminary approval on Tuesday, September 8 at the request of the property's mortgage lender trustee Wells Fargo Bank.

Judge Raffetto selected Hawaii attorney Miles B. Furutani. The appointment also includes Honolulu attorney Steven Mau, as receivership general counsel; Honolulu attorney Anna Elento-Sneed, as receivership labor counsel, and industry executive Peter Herndon, as the hotel management and transition advisor. The mortgage lender has agreed to continue to provide funding at the direction of the court.

Miles Furutani has chosen Benchmark Hospitality Management as the new management company and will file a motion to confirm the appointment with the court. Benchmark is scheduled to begin on September 17 when Maui Prince LLC stops operating the hotel and resort. Benchmark will then change the name and branding of the destination resort.

"We are pleased the resort hotel has taken the next step in its transition while it continues to operate normally for guests and employees," said Barry Sullivan, the attorney for Wells Fargo Bank, the trustee for the mortgage lenders. "We are very confident in both Miles Furutani and Benchmark and thank the court for moving this process along quickly and efficiently. Our goal has been to facilitate this transition, keep the resort operating and save as many jobs as possible. We now look forward to the next steps to return the hotel and resort to profitability."

The owner of the hotel, a venture between Everett Dowling Co. and a Morgan Stanley real estate fund bought the property in 2007 from Seibu Railway Co., Ltd. and invested a total of more than $200 million. Additionally, it borrowed $227 million from mezzanine lenders. The mortgage lender, for which Wells Fargo is the trustee, stepped in because the owner decided to walk away from its investment and the mezzanine lenders did not step in to cure the defaults.

The request for a receiver was supported by the ILWU Local 142, which represents the majority of the resort's workers, as the best way to preserve jobs and ensure operations at the 23-year-old property.

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