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James Hardie civil trial underway in Australia

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A civil trial, in which former directors of building products giant James Hardie have been accused of misleading investors, is underway in Sydney, Australia.

The trial of former directors of the company — each of whom face maximum fines of around $165,000 if found liable — centers on a claim they “failed to act” with due diligence when they underestimated the costs of an asbestos settlement plan. James Hardie formerly produced asbestos and was headquartered in Sydney until 2001, when it moved to the Netherlands.

The company ended up falling short in its investment fund by about $830 million, or 1 billion Australian dollars. In all, the company agreed on an approximately $3.3 billion asbestos settlement. The company is being sued by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.

James Hardie has said it will “actively defend” the claims made by the commission, which include charges of false or misleading statements on the matter.

James Hardie negotiated the original asbestos settlement over a substantial time, with input from unions, former workers, investors and other stakeholders. In a statement last year, following the company’s first payment to the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund in Australia, James Hardie chairman Meredith Hellicar wrote, “We are delighted to have made the first payment to the Fund under the agreement supported by our security holders this week. Like many, we have been looking forward to making this a reality for a long time.”

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Arthur Blank named chairman of Golf & Tennis Pro Shop

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank has been named chairman of the board for Golf & Tennis Pro Shop, owner and operator of PGA Tour Superstores. The move also marked Blank’s debut on the company’s board of directors.

Blank replaces Golf & Tennis Pro Shop founder Bill Hamlin, who is retiring, according to a statement from the company.

Blank is described as having been a “significant investor” in the company since 2006. He also serves as CEO of the Atlanta Falcons.

“I am honored to be leading the board of this exciting retail concept,” Blank said in a statement. “PGA Tour Superstore has real potential to further solidify its leadership position in the golf and tennis retail segments, by continuing to enhance its business model and through future store growth. I, along with our other board members, look forward to guiding the company in both these areas.”

The company was founded in 2004 and has since grown to 10 superstores nationwide.

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Vermilion Hardware to close after almost 150 years

BY HBSDEALER Staff

After nearly 150 years — 62 in the same family — Vermilion Hardware in Vermilion, Ohio, will be closing its doors before the end of the year, according to the Chronicle-Telegram newspaper.

The store, purchased by Henry and Edna Bailey in 1946, is now being run by their granddaughter, president Denise Fahrney, 34, as well as Fahrney’s father and sister. It is the oldest business in Vermilion.

Andy Grote, one of 10 store employees, said the store will probably close by mid-November.

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