Ansaldo responds to concerns; HART CEO gets 5% raise

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Italian train car maker Ansaldo Honolulu told the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) board today it's on schedule to deliver the first rail cars by June 2016, however board members still had concerns.

Ansaldo Honolulu's parent companies have been on the market. Hitachi from Japan and CNR from China are reportedly the two finalists. Reuters reports the company hopes to close the sale this month.

While there is no guarantee Honolulu wouldn't be impacted by a sale, the HART board was told they have $300 million in assurance bonds just in case Ansaldo doesn't deliver as promised.

"I'm pretty confident that there will be almost no major impact due to any sale," said Enrico Fontana, Ansaldo Honolulu Managing Director. "Whatever company in the future decides to buy Ansaldo STS or Ansaldo Breda we are more than committed and interested in having this project be a success and becoming a flagship in the Ansaldo group."

"It's been expected for more than three years that the companies may look to be sold by Finmeccanica as they restructure and refocus on their military aspects of what they do. I don't think it's a surprise but we do have all the safeguards in place so it's not something to be worried about," said Dan Grabauskas, HART CEO.

Ansaldo Honolulu won the $1.4 billion contract to build the rail cars. It will also get an estimated $110 million a year to operate and maintain the rail system. Grabauskas says Honolulu's rail is the company's biggest asset.

Also today HART's board announced it will be giving Grabauskas a raise and renew his contract another three years.
He'll get a five percent raise beginning in 2015, bringing his base salary up to $257,000. His annual performance bonus could go up to 15% of his salary to $38,000 a year. He will continue to receive a $36,000 housing allowance and $6,000 for transportation. In total for salary, bonuses and benefits Grabauskas will make $338,000 a year. He had made $322,000 each of the past two years.

That's more than what the mayor and governor make combined.

"I'm pretty much in line and actually a little below the median in terms of heads of transit authorities," said Grabauskas. "I think in terms of the type of responsibility I have relative to other CEO's in the country it's pretty much on market."

Grabauskas would get a year's salary if he's fired. In his three years leading HART the board says he's had exceptional reviews.

The new contract expires April 2018.

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