Wesfarmers to exit insurance industry; Construction sector improves in March; Seafolly wins copyright fight: Midday Roundup

Wesfarmers is looking to exit the insurance industry, with a $US1 billion deal with global broking group Arthur J Gallagher & Co to sell its insurance broking and premium funding subsidiaries.

The sale to subsidiaries of Arthur J Gallagher will include the Australian and UK business OAMPS and Crombie Lockwood in New Zealand.

“We believe this sale agreement with Arthur J Gallagher is in the best interests of our shareholders while offering the customers and employees of our insurance broking and premium funding businesses the opportunity to join a leading global insurance and broking company with ambitions to expand in Australia and New Zealand,” Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder said.

Construction sector improves in March

The national construction sector is contracting at a slower rate, increasing two points on the Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association Performance of Construction Index in March.

The construction sector recorded a score of 46.2 on the index, with scores under 50 indicating contraction.

It’s the third consecutive month of improvement for the sector, but the fact it’s not yet returned to growth indicates it’s got “a considerable way to go”.

“While there was a consolidation of recent gains in the house building sector and further signs of recovery in commercial construction, these were outweighed in March by a further decline in engineering construction and a pull-back in apartment building,” Ai Group director of public policy Peter Burn said in a statement.

Seafolly wins copyright fight

Beachwear company City Beach Australia has been instructed to pay $250,333 in damages to competitor Seafolly following a copyright infringement.

Inside Retail reports that the Federal Court of Australia found that City Beach infringed copyright in three of Seafolly’s swimwear fabric designs. These included an ‘English Rose’ print, a ‘Covent Garden’ print and ‘Senorita’ embroidery.

It was found in court that a number of City Beach apparel styles also infringed the ‘English Rose’ print, but the two parties agreed to a stay the hearing of these claims.

The trial judge will need to make a determination of these additional copyright infringement claims.

Recently Seafolly succeeded another legal stoush with White Sands swimwear designer Leah Madden over plagiarism claims.

Shares down on open

Aussie shares have opened lower this morning, following Wall Street’s downward slide on Friday.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was down 11 points to 5411.8 at 12:07pm AEST. On Friday night the Dow Jones closed 159.84 points lower, down 0.96% to 16,412.71.

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