Starts Corp. an integrated real estate company with holdings in Japan and Honolulu has purchased Alte Guam Golf Resort and on Sept. 1 changed the resort’s corporate name to Starts Guam Golf Resort Inc.

Starts Corp. acquired the 27-hole golf layout and adjacent 62-room Green Park Hotel for an undisclosed amount by purchasing 100% of the stocks in Alte Guam Golf Resort Inc. on April 2. Documents at the Department of Land Management show that HMK Guam Inc. with a certificate of corporate name change filed on March 26 officially became Alte Guam Golf Resort Inc. a week prior to the stock sale. Sinforoso M. “Rossi” Tolentino an attorney for Carlsmith Ball LLP who represented the resort in the sale said the corporate name change reflected an earlier merger of HMK Guam and Alte Guam Golf Resort.

Shuhei Kawabata managing director of the course who joined Alte in November 1999 said it would be business as usual for the resort. “We’ll try our best to continue to give the best service and we are improving our existing Bermuda grass quality as much as we can.” Starts Guam Golf Resort is Guam’s second busiest golf resort. Golfers played 35 384 rounds at Alte in 2002 which dropped to 28 151 in 2003. Starts expected the number of rounds for 2004 to be about 26 000.

This is the second change of ownership in the history of the golf property. Hatsuho International Inc. was established on Guam in 1985 and opened the 18-hole Hatsuho International Country Club in 1987. An additional nine holes and the Hatsuho Green Park Hotel were opened in July 1992. In 1996 Hatsuho set a record of about 80 000 rounds with golf for the year. On May 26 1998 Hatsuho International Country Club was sold at a foreclosure sale for $20 million to HMK Guam which leased the property the same day to Alte Guam Golf Resort. (See “Shitaku Kin ” the cover story in the January 2001 issue of Guam Business magazine.) Circumstances surrounding the sudden sale caused Hatsuho’s 483 members to sue Hatsuho HMK Alte and the foreclosing lender in the Superior Court of Guam claiming that a fraudulent transaction had taken place. A settlement was reached on Sept. 8 1999 that created “inherited” Alte golf club memberships.

Starts Corp. which is publicly traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange is described by Bloomberg as a company that sells leases develops and manages real estate properties and through subsidiaries operates publishing and network media businesses. The Oct. 23 issue of the Nihon Keisai Shimbun said Starts Corp. is among three of Japan’s rental-property brokers that are forecasting record pretax profits this fiscal year. Starts is projecting 19% pretax profit for the fiscal year ending March 31 2005. The newspaper report said “Its planned launch of seven directly operated stores and 50 franchise outlets would bring the total number of its branches to 205. The company projects its residential property holdings to increase 14% and its parking lot holdings to rise 15%.”

The president of Starts Guam Golf Resort is Hamako Hata who also is president of Starts International Hawaii Inc. and lives in Honolulu.

Kawabata said there would be no change in golf membership policies under the new ownership. He said there are about 200 local members.

Starts Corp.’s acquisition of Alte Guam was simultaneous with the March 30 sale of $906.5 million in loans that had been extended to Alte Co. Ltd. by Resona Bank Ltd. thereby making Alte a group company of GE. Alte is a real estate company based in Osaka Japan. GE’s acquisition excluded the Guam golf resort. The March 17 issue of the Wall Street Journal said Resona Bank had undergone a government bailout in July and was restructuring which meant cutting the number of group subsidiaries and affiliates. Alte was a non-group affiliate with historically close ties to Resona. GE Real Estate in Japan is a business unit of General Electric Co.

The only evidence of the change of ownership of the golf resort at Guam’s Department of Land Management was the certificate of corporate name change due to the fact that a new deed was unnecessary because the sale that took place was in the form of a stock purchase. Details of Guam property sales involving Japanese or Korean buyers and sellers often remain a mystery said W. Nicholas Captain president of The Captain Co. a real estate consultant and broker because the transactions are handled off-island sometimes involve closely related companies and often are not registered with new deeds. MBJ