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Demand from mainland companies has pushed up Hong Kong cost-per-desk prices while currency moves have affected London, enabling the Chinese territory to leapfrog the UK capital when it comes to office expenses.

Hong Kong has replaced London’s West End as the world’s most expensive office location. The cost-per-desk of locating 100 workers in Hong Kong is equivalent to 300 in Toronto, 500 in Madrid and 900 in Mumbai, according to estate advisory firm Cushman & Wakefield

A report from the firm shows that Hong Kong is the most expensive place to have an office, with a cost of $27,431 per desk, compared with $22,665 in the West End of London. The annual report, Office Space Across The World, surveys occupancy costs in 215 office markets across 58 countries worldwide and ranks occupancy costs per workstation and workplace densities for newly developed or refurbished office space globally.

Limited availability and strong demand from mainland Chinese corporations have pushed Hong Kong costs up 5.5% to $27,431. Escalating rents are driving a growing number of multinational corporations to decentralise to lower cost areas.

Meanwhile, costs in London have fallen 19% since 2016 – largely as a result of sterling depreciation – to an average of $22,665 per workstation a year. However they remain twice the costs of Paris or Frankfurt.

At a global level, the average annual cost per workstation rose by 1.5% in the past 12 months, the report said. This was driven by the Americas, where costs increased by 4.2%, and Asia-Pacific, where they rose by 3.4%. However the Europe, Middle East and Africa region posted a fall of 1.3%.

Currency fluctuations have produced some of the biggest changes in the report’s rankings. “For companies looking at their local costs, this factor will exercise them more than property markets over the next year,” said Cushman & Wakefield in a summary.

The report noted that growth of the tech sector has spawned a new generation of firms less wedded to traditional global power cities than banks and financial institutions.

Report author Sophy Moffat, research and insight head, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “Hong Kong and London are by far the most expensive office markets in which to accommodate staff, but secondary cities are beginning to compete in the digital age in ways not possible during the industrial age.

“Beneath the established global contenders, the likes of Stockholm, Austin and Seoul are moving up our cost rankings. Austin, which has risen to 21st on our list, is still 40% cheaper than Silicon Valley and has become a tech hub in its own right.”

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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