James Hardie

James Hardie

For the founder of the UK Labour Party, see James Keir Hardie.Infobox_Company
company_name = James Hardie Industries Ltd.
company_type = Public (asx|JHX)
foundation = Melbourne, Australia 1888
location = Netherlands
key_people = Louis Gries, CEO
Russell Chenu, CFO

industry = Building materials
revenue = A$1.5 billion
products = Columns
Commercial Facades
Fencing and Lattice
num_employees = 2500
homepage = [http://www.jameshardie.com.au/ James Hardie]

James Hardie Industries Ltd. is an industrial building materials company headquartered in the Netherlands and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange which specializes in fibre cement products. James Hardie is a leader in the manufacturing and development of technologies, materials and manufacturing processes of durable building materials. For over 20 years, Hardie has operated one of the largest research and development facilities devoted solely to fiber-cement technology. Hardie's fiber cement siding has a wood appearance yet does not warp or rot and will pass as a masonry product in cities that have masonry ordinances.


James Hardie immigrated to Australia in 1888 from Linlithgow, Scotland, and created a business importing oils and animal hides. Andrew Reid, also from Linlithgow, came to join Hardie in Melbourne, and became a full partner in 1895. When Hardie retired in 1911, he sold his half of the business to Reid.

James Hardie Industries Ltd. was first listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1951.

In December 2001, the company shareholders unanimously voted to restructure and relocate the company in the Netherlands as a parent company, as to separate themselves from the asbestos controversy.Fact|date=January 2008

Asbestos products and controversy

For much of the 20th Century James Hardie was also involved in manufacturing and selling asbestos related products. Many of these products - most notably the building material known as "Fibro" - resulted in people developing asbestosis and mesotheliomaFact|date=January 2008. In 2001 it set up the Medical Research and Compensation Foundation to provide financial compensation for victims of asbestos related diseases caused by their products. The foundation chairman, Sir Llewellyn Edwards, has criticised James Hardie for providing insufficient funds for settling claims from victims of asbestos related diseasesFact|date=January 2008.

The company has been accused of not handling their liabilities to these victims properlyFact|date=January 2008. A number of factors were included as part of the allegations, such as its restructure, resulting in the move from Australia to the Netherlands, and its reorganization of the business relationships between related companies, which were claimed to minimise financial exposure to employees who had become sick after working at its asbestos mines and manufacturing plantsFact|date=January 2008. These allegations were the subject of a judicial inquiry in New South Wales (Australia)Fact|date=January 2008. The findings were very critical of James Hardie and its management. Subsequent to the inquiry, prosecutors were considering bringing charges against the C.E.O. amongst other senior executivesFact|date=January 2008.

On 10 August 2004, James Hardie Industries announced strong profits. A day later, it announced the resignation of its Board Chairman, Alan McGregor, due to ill health, and that he had been replaced by director Meredith Hellicar. Another day later, John Sheehan, the senior legal counsel assisting the inquiry, made recommendations that the company's chief executive officer, Peter Macdonald, be charged with fraudFact|date=January 2008. (These charges carry a maximum penalty of 8 years in prison and fines of AU$350,000; James Hardie could also face fines of AU$1.75 million.)Fact|date=November 2007 The basis of charges are a February 2001 press release where the company claimed the adequacy of its compensation fund was based on expert advice from accountancy firms which, allegedly, effectively misled the public and the Australian Stock Exchange.

On 27 November 2007, Australian political campaigner, Bernie Banton, died at his home after having suffered asbestosis, mesothelioma and Asbestos-Related Pleural Disease (ARPD)Fact|date=January 2008. Bernie Banton contracted these diseases after working for James Hardie for 6 years.

See also

* Asbestos and the law


* Haigh, Gideon. "Asbestos House: The Secret History of James Hardie Industries". Victoria: Scribe, 2006.
* [http://www.brightoncemetery.com/HistoricInterments/150Names/hardiej.htm James Hardie (1851-1920)] Gravesite at the Brighton General Cemetery (Vic)

External links

* [http://www.ir.jameshardie.com.au James Hardie]
* [http://www.iveso.com IVESO HardiPlank Installers]

* [http://www.cabinet.nsw.gov.au/publications/tco_branches2 The report of the special commission of inquiry into James Hardie] .
* [http://www.scaleplus.law.gov.au/html/bills/0/2004/0/2004120319.htm Commonwealth Law removing legal privilege from documents belonging to James Hardie]
* [http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/rn/2004-05/05rn12.htm Enquiry]

News items related to inquiry

* [http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200407/s1164334.htm James Hardie inquiry told law reforms needed (ABC)]
* [http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2004/s1067639.htm James Hardie Ltd accused of underestimating compensation costs (ABC)]

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