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CEOs cautiously optimistic on Bermuda’s business prospects

International business chiefs are satisfied with Bermuda as a place to do business and live, a new survey revealed.

But big firm bosses are concerned about the cost of doing business on the Island, crime, public education standards and the potential impact of independence.

Association of Bermuda International Companies president George Hutchings said: “There is greater CEO satisfaction with government and work permit procedures and cautious optimism about short to medium term business prospects in Bermuda.”

He added: “Overall, CEOs remain satisfied with Bermuda as a place to live and work.”

Mr Hutchings, however, said that the international business profile had changed, with firms once exclusively based or headquartered on the Island now having offices in other jurisdictions — and a choice of where to base individual parts of their business.

On average, international businesses had four operations based elsewhere in the world, compared to two when a similar survey was carried out in 2009.

The survey reported that nearly half of Bermuda-based firms with operations elsewhere had moved some function to another location in the last five years.

Mr Hutchings said: “There has been significant expansion of company operations elsewhere, with the US, UK/Ireland and Europe the most favoured.”

And the survey found that outsourcing was being considered by 39 percent of CEOs — with value-for-money India being the most likely location. The survey added that — despite the consequences of the global financial crisis — outlooks for business expansion remain “cautiously optimistic.”

And it reported that CEOs had ‘a more positive view of Government and work permit procedures in particular.”

The survey said: “Although few see much change in the near term, in the medium term the expectation is for modest growth in manpower and floorspace requirements.”

The survey also showed that company chiefs relocate their families when they come to Bermuda and spend an average of more than 10 years based on the Island.

Mr Hutchings said: “There's good news here. This may signal that the CEOs see a long-term future for themselves in Bermuda and that's a real cause for optimism.”

He added: “It is our job to ensure that the various attributes that got Bermuda to where it is — great infrastructure, sensible regulation, tax efficiency, speed to market and quality of life — remain in place, in which case we will retain the senior management and core functions of these companies.”

The ABIC report also revealed that eight out of the nine company chiefs of the largest companies that responded to the survey were Bermudian, with two being black Bermudians.

A total of 40 (35 percent) of the 115 ABIC members responded to the survey, while 51 (48 percent) of ABIC CEOs responded to a separate questionnaire on their opinions and outlook.

George Hutchings

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Published November 28, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated November 28, 2013 at 8:16 am)

CEOs cautiously optimistic on Bermuda’s business prospects

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