Agency says city at low 17th place despite sharp rise in rents Hong Kong has been ranked a surprisingly low 17th in a survey of the world's most expensive office space. The ranking, by global property services firm CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), contrasts sharply with other recent international surveys and has raised eyebrows among local property agents, who said Hong Kong office rentals surged almost 40 per cent last year - the fastest growth in the world. London's West End is the most expensive location, followed by the British capital's City district and Tokyo's Inner Central, according to the CBRE survey of 158 cities for the second half of last year. On Wednesday, Cushman & Wakefield Healey & Baker said Hong Kong had risen 12 places to No5 while an earlier study by DTZ Debenham Tie Leung placed the city at No9. CBRE said Hong Kong's ranking rose from 24th in the previous six months, with the cost of prime, grade A office occupation, which includes rents, government rates and management fees, reaching US$58.91 per square foot per year. London's West End went for US$191.60 per square foot. DTZ Debenham research director Alva To Yu-hung said office costs in Central were higher than elsewhere in the territory. The consultant had earlier said Hong Kong's average occupation cost was US$66.60 per square foot. While property rates and management charges accounted for about $10 per square foot per month, Mr To said, rents in Central had risen to $40 per square foot, bringing the occupation cost to about $50. 'I feel a bit shocked with [CBRE's] result,' he said. Colliers International research director Simon Lo Wing-fai said Hong Kong's office market recorded a sharp increase in the fourth quarter last year, with an average monthly growth of up to 6 per cent. 'Various international finance institutions are very aggressive in taking up grade A office space in core Central. They do not worry about rents, as long as the premises command the best view, the best location and the best quality of buildings,' Mr Lo said. A spokeswoman at CBRE said the variance in Hong Kong's rankings was probably because of differences in criteria used. 'We have been doing such surveys for years,' she said. Mr To said rent was not a major consideration for an international corporation. 'Otherwise, they would open an office in Mongolia.'