Wed, Feb 21, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Business Briefs


■ Construction
Directors quit over asbestos

Three directors of building products company James Hardie, including its chairwoman, Meredith Hellicar, resigned yesterday after Australia's corporate watchdog launched legal action against the firm. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) accused James Hardie Industries earlier this month of allegedly misleading the stockmarket about its liabilities to asbestos disease victims. The ASIC action named 10 current and former executives and board members, including Hellicar. The two others who resigned were non-executive directors Michael Brown and Michael Gillfillan. ASIC chairman Jeffrey Lucy said the action would not affect the deal under which James Hardie agreed to pay US$1.55 billion into a compensation fund that will pay out an estimated US$4 billion over the next 40 years.

■ Internet

`Sex addict' vet sues IBM

A man who was fired by IBM for visiting an adult chat room during the workday is suing the computer company for US$5 million in White Plains, New York, claiming he is an Internet addict who deserves treatment and sympathy rather than dismissal. James Pacenza, 58, says he visits chat rooms as treatment for traumatic stress incurred in 1969 when he saw his best friend killed during an Army patrol in the Vietnam War. In papers filed in federal court in White Plains, Pacenza said the stress caused him to become "a sex addict, and with the development of the Internet, an Internet addict." He claimed protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

■ Aerospace

Bombardier unveils new jet

Canadian aerospace firm Bombardier on Monday announced plans to build a 100-seat regional jet to compete with Brazilian rival Embraer. The CRJ1000 will be launched at the end of 2009, four years after Embraer introduced its 190 model, the Montreal-based company said. Bombardier said it has already received 38 firm orders for the aircraft from Air France subsidiary Brit Air, Italy's My Way Airlines and a third unnamed airline, worth about US$2 billion. Two of these airlines may opt to buy another 23 jets, the company said. Company president Pierre Beaudoin said the CRJ1000 would weigh 12.5 tonnes less than Embraer's 190, use smaller engines and cost 15 percent less to fly.

■ Casinos

Virgin-Tabcorp tie-up fails

A proposed partnership between Britain's Virgin conglomerate and Australia's Tabcorp to open a casino in Macau has collapsed, a report said yesterday. "We can't see that partnership going anywhere," a source told the South China Morning Post English-language daily. Virgin boss Richard Branson had been tipped to join with Tabcorp on the US$3.0 billion project after he visited the city last month with the Australian gambling outfit's Matthew Slater.

■ Automakers

Hyundai sets up Brazil plant

South Korea's top automaker, Hyundai Motor, is building a car plant in Brazil, its first in Latin America, the company said yesterday. The CAOA group, a distributor of Hyundai cars in Brazil, will foot the entire bill for the construction while the South Korean firm supplies it with auto parts, a Hyundai spokesman said. Maeil Business Newspaper said CAOA was investing US$250 million in building the plant at Anapolis south of Brasilia. The plant, expected to open in the first half of this year, will produce 50,000 vehicles a year by 2009, Hyundai said.

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