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Major pain follows insurance fall

THE Federal Government has unveiled a $500 million rescue package for the estimated 28,000 victims of the collapse of insurance giant HIH.

The package was rushed through Cabinet earlier this week with the aim of helping the Government avoid the unattrac-tive option of asking taxpayers to foot the bill via the imposition of a one per cent insurance levy.

Funds will be handed to the insurance industry to manage existing and future hardship claims by those worst affected by the insurer’s fall.

The corporate collapse also has provided the Government with an opportunity to shake-up the insurance industry. Already it has called for urgent industry reform and talks on introducing nationwide insurance schemes.

The Government has agreed to bankroll a $5 million investi-gation by the Australian Securities and Investment Com-mission into the failure of HIH.

HELIX Resources’ Munni Munni platinum mine looks set for a bright future, with the Perth-based company striking a deal with one of the world’s biggest platinum producers.

Helix Resources this week signed a Memorandum of Un-derstanding with South African producer Lonmin for the pro-gression of the Munni Munni mine and the exploration for platinum group metals.

Under the deal, Lonmin will buy an 11.8 per cent stake in Helix, or six million shares, through a placement at $1.30 a share.

Lonmin also will acquire a 50 per cent share in the Munni Munni mine by providing $8 million for a full feasibility study on the project’s development.

DEBATE continued on the BHP-Billiton merger as BHP put the hard sell on shareholders in the face of vocal criticism of the $57 billion deal.

BHP has become increasingly frustrated by shareholders, who maintain the company is paying too much for the South African-controlled Billiton.

At such a price, the 58-42 ownership split of the merged company should be more heavily weighted toward BHP, they argue.

But despite the criticisms, analysts believe the deal is most likely to go through, pending key regulatory approvals from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and the Foreign Investment Review Board.

SEVEN WA companies were ranked among Australia’s fastest growing technology companies in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 program.

Heading up the local contingent was PieNETWORKS, which ranked 12th with a three-year revenue growth of 500 per cent.

New Tel, iiNet, Pretzel Logic, HarvestRoad Limited, HP JDV Limited and Cape Range Wireless also made the list.

The seven companies listed grew, on average, by 257 per cent over a three-year period.

PREMIER Geoff Gallop this week issued a stern warning to Multiplex there would be no extensions to the May 28 deadline by which it must submit its financial package for the Perth Convention Centre.

The construction giant has two weeks to put its own finances in order to secure $135 million in government funding to build the convention centre and soccer stadium.

It also has become unclear whether the soccer stadium will become a reality, with Multiplex signalling it may withdraw from the project after failing to come to a tenancy agreement with Perth Glory.

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