Style, storms and financial fashion in Bermuda

There can be nothing more disconcerting than the sight of a man in knee-length light pink shorts, knee-high socks, a striped shirt and tie and a jacket flung casually over his shoulder. There is, in fact, no excuse for it.

But that is the sight that will greet readers of the FT on Thursday’s analysis page. A sight reproduced, with our apologies, below.

Businessmen in Bermuda

There is hope though. Hedge funds are coming to the rescue.

Yes, waves of hedge fund and private equity managers are washing up on the island’s shores and bringing with them their open-neck, chino-sporting sartorial style.
Roger Crombie, editor of Bermuda Re, told the FT:

Mandatory open-necked checked shirts have replaced the previously mandatory buttoned- up golf shirts.

The money managers, explains the story, are being drawn to the former British colony by the reinsurance business, which has grown rapidly since the September 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina pushed up premium, left the industry short of capital, and attracted the attention of opportunistic hedge money.

And Bermuda is at the forefront of that growth. The island attracted $18bn of the $21bn in new reinsurance funds raised globally last year.

The hedge funds last year recorded bumper profits as there were very few catastrophes. If a devastating wave of storms hits this year, that is unlikely to be repeated. But a second year of record profits would bring its own problems, with so much capital that many complain it is becoming harder to invest profitably. Some predict that the funds will start to take each other over, or turn their attention to acquiring companies that underwrite policies at Lloyd’s.

But latest forecasts put hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin this year at 65 per cent above the long-term average since 1950.

A sticky few months for the hedgies then – no matter what monstrous outfit they choose to wear.

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