Tunnel Paves Way to North Business Areas

It should come as no surprise that Sydney, the financial capital of Australia, has attracted the headquarters of all the major general insurers.

One of the country's leading insurance companies - listed on the Australian, London, and New York stock exchanges - is FAI Insurances.

Its chief executive, Rodney Adler, is a firm believer in the advantages of Sydney as a financial center over other cities in Australia, particularly Sydney's nearest rival in terms of size, Melbourne.

"Forty-two percent of the Australian population is in this state, and because insurance is a high-volume, low-overheads business, to be considered a major insurer you have to be located in Sydney," Mr. Adler said.

"Sydney is the perceived capital of Australia, and while that's not so important, it is the capital for the international traveler, with Sydney Airport the main gateway," he added.

Because FAI is listed in eight countries, and is a major Australian insurer, it must be located in Sydney, according to Mr. Adler.

This belief in Sydney's significance is underscored by the fact that FAI was, in fact, established 35 years ago in Melbourne, some 600 miles to the south.

Move from Melbourne

That the company moved its headquarters is symptomatic of Melbourne's declining importance as a financial center, though between the World Wars and for a good 15 years after World War II, it was unchallenged as the corporate, banking, and finance hub of Australia.

"I think a lot of it has to do simply with the quality of life," Mr. Adler said. "Sydney has better weather and is physically a beautiful city.

"What is too often forgotten is that business people are human beings, too, and respond better in the business sense if they are very comfortable in their environment. Sydney certainly provides that comfort."

Mr. Adler's company insures 9% of the Australian population, with 350,000 clients in New South Wales out of a total of 1.7 million nationwide.

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