Tuesday 24 October 2017

The Punt: Cheltenham tills set to ring

Ruby Walsh (L) on Hurricane Fly walks beside trainer Willie Mullins after a workout on the gallops at the Cheltenham racecourse
Ruby Walsh (L) on Hurricane Fly walks beside trainer Willie Mullins after a workout on the gallops at the Cheltenham racecourse
Eddie Hobbs

This week's Cheltenham Festival is a jolly affair all round, with an estimated 200,000 expected to descend on the town for the festival.

The nearby UK Government Communications HQ (GCHQ) could have a field day listening in to phone calls over the few days. One suspects the spooks might even hear a few complaints about prices.

Cheltenham businesses are rubbing their hands at the thoughts of the invasion of punters. Most hotels hike the prices of their rooms. A standard double at the Big Sleep Hotel, for instance, has shot up from £50 a night to £300 (€359).

The manager of the hotel told a local newspaper that his rooms were sold out for this week by the end of 2013.

"There is so much demand out there, it is an important time for hotels to cash in," Duncan Verbuyst told the 'Gloucestershire Echo'. "You might think that £300 for a room is a lot, but given the demand it's actually quite reasonable and our customers certainly don't mind paying it."

Local pubs are stocking up on champagne and Guinness. There were, apparently, 236,472 pints of Guinness drunk by spectators at the festival last year – not including the tens of thousands consumed outside the course. There were also 45,000 baps eaten and 10,745 bottles of bubbly downed. And the £300 hotel rooms, one suspects, were barely slept in.

Vine gets tough on X-rated clips

In the old days, there was one reliable maxim about the internet and profitability: porn makes the web go round. But how times have changed. These days, where commercialisation and advertising deals rule, most web companies are now running as far as they can from adult content.

The latest to jump on the skinless bandwagon is Vine, the Twitter-owned, six-second video service. While six-second encounters are not usually a favoured outcome for those seeking such experiences, Vine has made it clear that it will no longer allow "explicit" clips to be uploaded to its service.

In doing so, the company follows a long line of internet and technology companies for whom adult content is now too hot to handle. Apple has long been the standard-bearer, refusing to allow any explicit material into its iPhone or iPad app stores.

YouTube and Google's Play Store also practise abstention, although not always as successfully as their Macintosh rivals. In fact, there are very few mainstream web services that now openly allow any kind of adult content between their virtual sheets. (Tumblr, owned by Yahoo, is a notable exception.)

This is not to say that all nudity is now banned on Vine, mind you: unlike Facebook, breastfeeding shots are still okay on Vine, as are "artistic" nudes. But those looking for something a little more gratuitous will need to take their X-rated minds elsewhere.

Detroit's loss is Hobbs's gain

EDDIE Hobbs seems to be doing okay from the decline of Detroit, which filed for bankruptcy last year after its population more than halved from 1.85 million in 1950 to 701,000 last year. The investment firm established by the celebrity consumer advocate has recorded an immediate €1.2m gain from its investment in Detroit's empty houses.

The €1.2m gain from the purchase of distressed residential properties in the Detroit region contributed to pre-tax profits at Hobbs's Cork-based Brendan Investment Pan European Property (BIPEP) plc increasing 14-fold to €888,863 in the 12 months to the end of 2012.

This followed a pre-tax profit of €60,562 in the 11 months to the end of December 31, 2011.

The directors' report attached to the BIPEP accounts show that distressed properties were purchased in 2012 by the group's US investment entity, Artesian Equities, with the cost of the acquisition at €4.56m.

The report states that "a gain of €1.21m has been recorded in the income statement in respect of the revaluation to their fair market value at year end".

Nice to see that there are one or two Irish vulture funds engaged in a bit of bottom feeding as well as the US variety.

Irish Independent

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