Why fixing planes is better than flying them, why investors dig the student life and posh pawn gets the pulses racing in the US.
Across the world, people are heading back to college in their thousands as the job market tightens, but there are simply not enough decent places for those in higher education to live in.
This could be an opportunity for the canny investor. There are a number of big companies that build and manage accommodation specifically for students, but until recently they’ve only sold the buildings to specialised investors such as pension funds. Now, individual investors can get in on the act.
Coral Student Portfolio is aiming to raise €100m to invest in purpose-built student residences. The fund is being set up in the UK and will expand in Europe, where university-owned residences are also in short supply. “In recessions, student numbers increase,” says Coral director Lawrence Frampton, adding that students are more likely to pay their rent than tenants in the wider rental market who can suffer redundancy.
To encourage fresh thinking, Industrial Research, a New Zealand firm, is offering $1m of its services to the company with the most innovative business idea.
Few businesses are flourishing right now, but those that resell designer jewellery and high-end watches are doing a roaring trade as customers exchange their beloved luxuries for much-needed cash.
New York City-based Circa, for one, has seen growth of 45 per cent in the past 24 months, says CEO Chris Del Gatto. This spring, Circa added outposts in Philadelphia and Miami, bringing its total office count to eight. And, given traditional stocks have become so risky, “a lot of our collectors see jewellery as an alternative investment,” he says.
“We work with some of the most important collectors in the world and they are just as hungry now as they ever were,” he adds. Circa thinks there is a gap in the US market too for a service for the growing crowds of middle classes looking to sell their more ordinary gold jewellery. Branching out that way, Circa aims to make an extra $200m (€148m) in the next two to three years. #
01 Private jets: Extra planes on hand? Leading Edge Aviation Solutions is one of many firms that will help sell your jet. le-aviation.com
02 Art: Companies such as the Emigrant Bank Fine Art Finance, facilitate loans against an art collection. emigrantbankfineart.com
03 Housewares: For those downsizing their homes, Portero.com offers an online glimpse of what an Erte Sea Maidens Baccarat Vase could fetch ($15,000).
04 Cars: If you’re a member of the social network A Small World, you can pawn your Bentley to someone looking for a new ride.
With the recent drop in passenger and cargo numbers, some airlines are looking for a lift from business on the ground. Carriers will spend an estimated €32bn in 2009 on keeping their fleets up to scratch.
Lufthansa Technik, the German airline’s subsidiary, employs 20,000 mechanics to look after 1,700 of the 19,300 commercial aircraft flying today, doing everything from paint jobs to “D-Checks”, where a plane is dismantled to look for wear and tear. Lufthansa has recently invested in new hangars in Sofia and Beijing.
The strategy seems to be working – Lufthansa Technik’s revenues were up for the first quarter of 2009.
As smoking bans become pervasive in the US and abroad, cigarette makers must get creative to survive. RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris have introduced smokeless tobacco products in the US including “snus” – the spitless tobacco already popular in countries such as Sweden. RJ Reynolds is also testing the market for dissolvable, candy-like nicotine alternatives.