BRIEFS

INSURANCE

INSURANCE

Premiums to soar

Households will be hit with double-digit percentage rises in their insurance premiums for a second year as insurers restore profits after their worst year on record for disaster claims, a survey has found. Floods, hailstorms and New Zealand's earthquakes took their toll and QBE Insurance Group, Insurance Australia Group, Suncorp and Wesfarmers Insurance recently warned earnings would be cut as a result. Insurers are expected to raise premiums 13 per cent this year, after a 10 per cent increase last year, the annual survey by JP Morgan and Deloitte shows.

EDUCATION

Visa rules take toll

Education provider Navitas expects second-half earnings to be weaker amid uncertainty over student visa rules. Navitas yesterday reported a net profit of $35.4 million for the six months to December 31, up from $32.2 million in the previous corresponding period. The company said its earnings would have been down about 6 per cent if it weren't for the contribution of its recent acquisition of video and audio college SAE. The chief executive of Navitas, Rod Jones, said its operations were suffering while the federal government reviewed the visas.

FORECASTS

Cooking up profit

A strong performance in North America has led kitchen appliance maker and distributor Breville Group to increase its earnings forecasts. Preliminary results for the six months to December 31 point to pre-tax earnings of about $45 million, Breville said yesterday. That would be a 36 per cent improvement on the $33.2 million earned in the same period of 2010. Breville's Australian operations performed as expected in a difficult retail environment, acting chief executive Jack Lord said. The company makes Breville, Kambrook and Ronson products.

TAKEOVERS

Poison pill fears

APA Holdings has warned that an estimated $215 million of mezzanine debt held by takeover target Hastings Diversified may be a 'poison pill' which could reduce the worth of the target due to its onerous conditions. APA has lodged a $1 billion takeover bid for Hastings, with unit holders to receive 0.326 APA shares and 50? cash for each unit held. When the offer was made in mid-December, it valued each Hastings unit at $2 based on the APA share price at the time of $4.60. Sources close to Hastings yesterday said the loan has the usual rights to protect the position of the lender.

TAKEOVERS

Poison pill fears

APA Holdings has warned that an estimated $215 million of mezzanine debt held by takeover target Hastings Diversified may be a 'poison pill' which could reduce the worth of the target due to its onerous conditions. APA has lodged a $1 billion takeover bid for Hastings, with unit holders to receive 0.326 APA shares and 50? cash for each unit held. When the offer was made in mid-December, it valued each Hastings unit at $2 based on the APA share price at the time of $4.60. Sources close to Hastings yesterday said the loan has the usual rights to protect the position of the lender.