x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Hedgies growing nicely - and probably picking Apples, too

Bankers, many would say, have a lot to answer for. Like the global financial crisis, for one. And as if that isn't burden enough, it seems they are also being held responsible for a slight dip in rental prices in some of central London's ritziest neighbourhoods, notes Felicity Glover.

Pedestrians walk past houses at Wycombe Square in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009. The streets in London's Kensington and Chelsea district have the most expensive U.K. properties with sterling's slide helping to lure buyers to an area where the average cost of a house exceeds 1 million pounds ($1.6 million). Photographer: Frantzesco Kangaris/Bloomberg
Pedestrians walk past houses at Wycombe Square in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009. The streets in London's Kensington and Chelsea district have the most expensive U.K. properties with sterling's slide helping to lure buyers to an area where the average cost of a house exceeds 1 million pounds ($1.6 million). Photographer: Frantzesco Kangaris/Bloomberg

Bankers, many would say, have a lot to answer for. Like the global financial crisis, for one.

And as if that isn't burden enough, it seems they are also being held responsible for a slight dip in rental prices in some of central London's ritziest neighbourhoods.

The drop, the first in two years, is being blamed on deep job cuts among bankers in the City of London, who are these days probably slumming it in their country estates rather than keeping up appearances with rental payments on expensive digs in town, where you'd usually find them during the week because they couldn't be bothered with the commute home.

According to Reuters, Savills, a British property firm, has reported average prime rents dropped by 0.4 per cent in the year to the middle of this month from a year ago to £60 (Dh342.66) per square foot for the best homes .

Rental prices were expected to remain subdued for the rest of this year as the United Kingdom's banking sector's difficulties persisted, a pessimistic Savills warned.

"Central London's prime rental market is dominated by tenants from the financial-services sector and is a barometer for what's happening in the City of London employment market," Lucian Cook, Savills' director of research, told Reuters. The number of jobs in London's finance sector is expected to slump to its lowest level in 16 years this year as the euro-zone debt crisis drives firms in the UK capital to cut 25,000 jobs, the Centre for Economics and Business Research, a consultancy firm, said last month, Reuters reported.

Royal Bank of Scotland, a government-owned lender, recently said it would soon make 600 staff redundant, bringing the total number of lay-offs it has made since its embarrassing 2008 bailout to 36,000.

But, as usual, it's the hedge-fund managers, or hedgies as they are also known, who are a step ahead of the beleaguered bankers. I'm guessing that's mostly down to the fact that they have to stay ahead of the pack in their day jobs because of that absolute guaranteed return they usually promise investors.

According to Mr Cook, hedgies now have more money than bankers to spend on renting the best homes. Which begs the question: why rent when you should buy, especially in central London?

Anyway, Mr Cook says the spending power of bankers - or at least the ones still in a job - has been hit by "shrinking bonus pots". Oh, the humiliation of it all.

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Here's a revelation: people who use Apple Mac computers spend up to 30 per cent more per night on hotels compared with their miserly Windows PC counterparts, Orbitz Worldwide, the online travel agency, has found.

And to cash in on those millions of supposedly more discerning Mac users around the world, Orbitz has decided to showcase its more costly travel options to this upwardly mobile group.

A report in The Wall Street Journal this week said Orbitz executives were experimenting with showing different hotel offers to Mac and PC visitors, although users could choose to rank results by price regardless of the computer they used.

And what they found is interesting. Mac users are 40 per cent more likely to book a four or five-star hotel than PC users and when Mac and PC users book the same hotel, Mac users tend to stay in more expensive rooms, the Journal reported.

So there you go. While Mac users appear to have more money than people who use Windows-based PCs, we think it's probably more an issue of style, a word that will forever be synonymous with Apple. And there's not enough money in the world to buy that. Style, that is.

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