James Hardie asbestos claims higher than expected

Building materials company James Hardie has revealed that claims from its asbestos victims are increasing faster than expected.

The ABC reports that the company’s asbestos related claims for the first half of 2014 were 5 per cent higher than for the corresponding period in 2014. In addition, the second quarter claims were 12 per cent than the corresponding period last year.

Claims from James Hardie’s asbestos victims for the first quarter were 19 per cent higher than actuarial estimates. Claims for the half were 10 per cent higher than actuarial estimates.

In September, the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund (AICF) board told James Hardie that it was likely to not have sufficient funds to pay out claims by 2017.

As such, the AICF proposed an approved payment scheme to cover the compensation claims. This would mean the company would pay money in instalments, rather than as a lump sum.

The company came in for criticism for being in this position, as it has been able to pay shareholders dividends of almost $600m in the last two years.

Critics such as Senator Nick Xenophon said that money should have gone to asbestos victims.

AAP reports that the company is expecting a net operating profit of between $US205 million and $US235 million ($A221.80 million and $A254.26 million) for 2014/2015.

It announced a net profit of $US156.1 million for the six months to September 30. This was a 20 per cent decrease from the first half for the previous year.