Monday 25 September 2017

Samsung snubs London in favour of Berlin because it’s 'not a fun place to live unless you are really rich’

Berlin had been selected as a location for the Samsung fund (AP)
Berlin had been selected as a location for the Samsung fund (AP)

Josie Cox

An arm of the technology giant Samsung has decided not to set up its European headquarters in London because the city is "not a fun place to live unless you are really rich".

Speaking to The Times, Felix Petersen, the managing director of Samsung Next Europe, a $150m technology fund owned by the South Korean company, said that Berlin had been selected as a location for the fund instead.

He told the paper it had become "increasingly hard for people to build companies" in London and that there were no reasonably priced neighbourhoods left.

In the German capital you can "do stuff without much money", he said, adding that the city is home to "uncommercialised zones".

"In London, the cost of living, the cost of getting around and the infrastructure mean it’s not a fun place to live unless you are really rich, especially for young people," he said.

Read more: Frankfurt emerging as the big winner from Brexit fallout

For those wanting to have children, London has become virtually impossible to live in, he added.

The average house price in London has crept up to close to £500,000 (€568,950) this year according to official data, making it one of the world’s most expensive cities. Berlin is still considered relatively affordable, especially compared to other German cities, like Munich and Frankfurt.

In additon to the cost factor, London is battling to retain talent in the aftermath of the UK’s vote last year to quit the European Union.

Scores of banks are considering shifting staff and their European headquarters away from London to the continent, in order to be able to retain crucial passporting rights and provide clients with a seamless service after Brexit.

Earlier this week, the chief executive of Societe Generale, speaking at a conference, said that the French bank could move 400 banking jobs from London to Paris because of Brexit.

Read more: Here's how Brexit will affect hit TV shows like 'Game of Thrones'

At the same conference, JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon reiterated plans to increase headcount at JPMorgan’s Frankfurt office and HSBC chief executive executive Stuart Gulliver said about 1,000 of HSBC’s 43,000 jobs in the UK would probably move to mainland Europe, underscoring comments made in January.

But so far London appears to have at least retained its appeal for investors in the tech sector.

According to figures published by London & Partners last week, the Mayor of London’s promotional agency, venture capital firms pumped more than £1.1bn into the city’s technology sector over the last six months.

The report showed that London’s tech sector attracted more venture capital investment over that period than any other European city since the Brexit vote, including Dublin, Paris, and Amsterdam.

More than four times the amount of investment was recorded than at the same stage during 2013 and more than during any other six-month time period in the last decade.

Investment across the whole of the UK topped £1.3bn.

Samsung is the world’s biggest producer of memory chips and is Asia's third-largest company by market capitalisation.

Independent News Service

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