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World hedgies not in awe of cosmopolitan life on offer in Toronto

Something billed as the "World Hedge Fund Summit" was being held this week. An annual affair, it is run by a group called Canadian Hedge Watch Inc. and its website offers up an array of heavy metal backers -- platinum, gold, silver and bronze levels -- including Scotia Capital, law firms Torys and Borden Ladner Gervais, Citigroup, and Chicago Mercantile Exchange, among them. Bank of Canada deputy governor David Longworth was billed as a prominent speaker. It is clearly pitched to an international audience.

But a runup to the summit this week left us a tad perplexed. Under way at the Paramount Conference & Event Venue, which is located north of Toronto in the suburb of Vaughan amid car dealerships and big-box stores, it seemed a setting more suited to weddings than a gathering of heavy-hitting hedge fund types. They normally prefer to think of themselves conferring in places like the Four Seasons -- rather than the nearby extended-stay hotel suggested by the summit's organizers.

Adding to our confusion was a parking lot with a suspicious lack of German cars -- perhaps a tipoff that the crowd wasn't exactly what the organizers at Canadian Hedge Watch were hoping for. Indeed, some of the invitees were less than excited about the location.

As one said to Nobody's Business on his cellphone while trying to find his way to the venue: "I thought they were holding this in Toronto, not the Yukon Territory!"

SEEN AT THE SCENE Want to know why types like Bill Gates want to own Four Seasons Hotels? Because it has a drawing power no other hotel company can claim. Case in point earlier this week (indeed it was the evening the news of the hotel company's proposed sale to Gates & friends was all over the media): The scene in the bar of the Toronto hotel at one particular hour included Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Grégoire, who were in town for the Giller award festivities, socializing. Meanwhile, Liberal leadership hopeful Scott Brison hopped from table to table. Over in a corner, flamboyant jet-setting property investment brothers Phil and David Kossoy were huddled with society real estate broker Jimmy Molloy, no doubt over some deal. And former British prime minister John Major sat at another table sipping cocktails with some friends.

nobodys-business@sympatico.ca

© 2007 The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved.

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