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New To The List: Whoa, Savio!

Hawaiian Island Homes' debut is marked by acrimony

Any interview that focuses on Peter Savio's new company, Hawaiian Island Homes Ltd., will soon focus on another Top 250 company, Central Pacific Bank. Says Savio: "They're malicious. They're vicious. I am going to become a stockholder in Central Pacific Bank. I am going to reform that institution. Their mistake was they stomped me. They didn't kill me. I'm coming back. I'm going to have fun with them."

STILL STANDING: Hawaiian Island Homes' Peter Savio is back in the Top 250 with a new company in the same building where his old company used to be. Photo: Ronen Zilberman

Go back to the year 2001. Savio Inc., a holding company for eight real estate sales and development companies, was No. 56 on the Top 250, with $134.6 million in 2000 gross sales. But in 2001, Savio Inc. filed for Chapter 7 liquidation, and Peter Savio and his wife filed for personal bankruptcy protection. Savio says he was forced into the bankruptcies because CPB gave him just five days to move from his second-floor offices at 931 University Ave. Savio says he had been in a workout plan with a number of lenders after he started experiencing cash-flow problems in the mid-1990s. But CPB forced his hand.

"The only way to stop them was, I had to file for personal bankruptcy. So to save my employees and everything else, I filed for personal bankruptcy - one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make. But I was really pissed at Central Pacific Bank for doing that," he says.

"It was tough," he adds. "Basically I lost everything. Lost my house. Lost everything. Had to basically come back from nothing."

Today, Savio is more than back. His real estate company, Hawaiian Island Homes Ltd., lists 2002 gross sales of $177 million. Its office is downstairs in the same building that Savio Inc.'s once was. And the company is No. 27, ahead of CPB Inc. (No. 49), something Savio will rejoice to read. Savio says, "I've decided that my goal is to beat them in the Top 250. … just so we can say, 'Nannynannybooboo!'"

That's not all. "My short-term and my long-term goal is to reform Central Pacific Bank," Savio says. "I think I'm going to buy the bank."

Ann Takiguchi, Central Pacific Financial's communications officer, says, "We made every effort to work with Mr. Savio, and it is unfortunate that he is blaming us for his situation. Out of respect for our customers' privacy, we have no further comment. As a matter of bank policy, we don't comment on the affairs of our customers."

Bankruptcy court filings show that Central Pacific Bank claimed that Savio Inc. owed it about $1.5 million when Savio filed for bankruptcy in 2001. The Internal Revenue Service and Pitney Bowes Credit Corp. also listed claims of about $2,000 each.

The court-appointed trustee for Savio Inc.'s bankruptcy case, attorney Jim Nicholson, says the only unencumbered asset of the estate, a unit in the Diamond Head Beach apartment building, was sold for $375,000 in June 2003.

Gross sales for Savio's other new company, Hawaiian Island Development, were not reported for this year's Top 250, so one thing is for sure: Next year, he'll be back. Says Savio: "We're going to set up a new holding company called, 'I Hate CPB.' No, my attorney said I couldn't do that. I have a warped sense of humor, OK? But anyway, the new holding company is going to be Ohia Holdings."

Knowing Savio, there is marked symbolism in that choice. After all, the Ohia tree can be found growing in the middle of old lava flows.

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