Business World

Wednesday 21 March 2018

The Punt - Make it rich in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is the most billionaire-friendly place on Earth
Hong Kong is the most billionaire-friendly place on Earth

INTERESTED in making the billionaires club? Then get your skates on and move to Hong Kong.

The influential US Centre for Policy Studies has just released a study of the world's 1,000 richest self-made people – and Hong Kong had by far the most per capita.

With about three super-entrepreneurs per one million inhabitants, Hong Kong is the most billionaire-friendly place on earth, followed by Israel, and the US, the study found. Its low corporation tax rates, minimal regulation, excellent academic institutions and Anglo-Saxon legal system make it a hotbed for wealth generation, the CPSU said.

But hang on – we don't want all of Ireland's most promising young entrepreneurs suddenly flooding east, en masse. There's actually no need to – our little country fared pretty well in the study, coming seventh. Low corporation tax rate: check, we have that. Minimal regulation: you betcha.

 An Anglo-Saxon legal regime – of course, though we're not exactly proud of our creaky and expensive legal system. The one aspect The Punt thinks we might be failing at is the "excellent academic criteria" requirement – Ireland's leading universities seem to be slipping down global rankings faster than Ryanair can sell calendars.

French secure new embassy

A new study this week from the Ireland-France Chamber of Commerce showed its members are upbeat on the Irish economy, with the majority of firms in the group expecting to hire in the next quarter.

Some of the work, the Punt notices, will be directed towards the new French Embassy on Dublin's leafy Merrion Square. The embassy is currently located on Ailesbury Road in Dublin, but has rented number 66 Merrion Square for its new base.

The embassy has also just lobbed in a planning application to Dublin City Council to upgrade its new premises. Among the alterations will be the restoration of a fireplace in the Ambassador's office (the current French Ambassador to Ireland is Emmanuelle D'Achon). All the carpets will be removed, with the floorboards cleaned and treated. A glass security door will be installed at the entrance. Rewiring and the installation of a new shower room also form part of the works.

The Punt notices that the building on Merrion Square was occupied in 1911 by High Court judge Walter Boyd, and Robert Boyd, who is listed as an assistant superintendent of the Indian police force. Five servants were also resident – one for each family member. One suspects the French Embassy staff will not be waited on hand and foot in the same manner.

Take-off at last for Cityjet sale

After two years, the sale of Cityjet gets its final drumroll this week. Air France-KLM had the Dublin-based airline up for sale as it cut costs and refocused its own strategy. On Thursday morning, Cityjet and its new owner, Germany-based Intro Aviation, will hold a briefing about the just finalised acquisition and what it means for the Dublin carrier.

Cityjet boss Christine Ourmieres, who had been an executive with Air France before being parachuted in to run Cityjet a few years ago, will be holding court in the Marker Hotel along with Intro chairman and CEO Hans Rudolf Wohrl.

Intro Aviation has said that Cityjet will remain based in Dublin, while a fleet renewal programme is on the top of the agenda. Cityjet will also continue to service some flights from Paris on behalf of Air France. Speaking to The Punt earlier this month, Ms Ourmieres was optimistic for Cityjet's fortunes. She acknowledged the losses, but said freedom to now sell its tickets how it likes and some operational changes will bear dividends.

What would be really interesting to know is how much Intro actually paid for Cityjet. Air France-KLM has pumped money into the airline, with its finance unit even stumping up about €40m on the very day last December that Intro made a firm offer to buy Cityjet.

Irish Independent

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