MIPIM 2011: Day 3
10 March 2011
MIPIM Wednesday is the day on which the serious business is done and on another chilly morning one could feel a sense of purpose in the air.
Bruce Dear, Head of London Real Estate, Eversheds
March 10th, 15:30
Scenes from the MIPIM conference stands:
Russian Federation Stand.
I find myself blinking in disbelief.
In front of me is a full mock up of a Russian rustic farmhouse, complete with a farmer’s wife in traditional white wedding dress, festooned with a filigree of silver lace and flowers.
Standing around the “kitchen” and chatting to her casually, are four burly actors in brilliant red and gold braid cossack outfits. Each of them clutches a bejewelled scimitar. The attention to detail is amazing. Fading sepia pictures of grand fatherly cossacks fill the shelves. There’s even a bowl of fresh vegetables on the kitchen table that our family guinea pigs, Pearl and Ginger, would kill for.
It was actually possible to dress up as a cossack (complete with a huge woolly cloak) and have your photo taken in front of a large white plastic mountain.
But somehow it didn’t feel right…
On the balcony of the Paris Region stand. The Mediterranean soughing gently and the brilliant white facades of the hotels and casinos reflecting the sun.
You can’t blame the Edwardian rich for making Cannes their winter home. Edward VII loved it and completely transformed its economy.
He generated a one man casino and haute cuisine boom by practising his life long vocation of getting unfeasibly fat and gambling unimaginable amounts.
He had other hobbies too, which I won’t mention here, as my sons James and Andrew are reading these blogs. When he died his belly was down to his ankles.
Somehow surveyors and lawyers having a few beers and a club sandwich doesn’t quite get there.
Stockholm has gone large and simple.
Its stand is a fluorescent white vodka bar and a giant virtual bowling alley.
Huge Scandanavians, looking like Thor on steroids, are knocking cartoon skittles in all directions. I am the Eddie Eagle of computer games, so decide not to challenge them.
Ostrava City Stand, Czech Republic.
The Ostravians have decided not to muck about. They are holding a champagne party complete with a dance floor and a medley of 70s music.
I hear strains of “Do the Hustle” and “Night Fever”, bringing back memories of skateboards and choppers.
It looks fun, although a little odd at 230 in the afternoon. Shame I can’t speak Czech.
March 10th, 10:00
Iain Thomas, Real Estate Partner, LG
Views and opinions expressed and overheard over dinners the previous evening were being recycled over coffee and croissants, cards and brochures were passing hands, notes were being studiously taken and business opportunities keenly discussed. This is the day on which brows are furrowed and the expense of the trip to Cannes is justified.
The news of the SFO swoop on the offices of the Tchenguiz brothers broke shortly before lunchtime and it was interesting to observe the reaction amongst MIPIMites. Live newscasts were being filmed against the backdrop of the brothers’ yacht moored on the Festival jetty. Hastily prepared pieces praising, burying, deifying, damning, mourning and castigating the brothers in equal measure started appearing on the web press. 20:20 hindsight prevailed. But on the ground it is probably not an exaggeration to say that the news of the arrests, whilst featuring in the day’s conversations, did not dominate them. Most people here will at some time have had direct or indirect dealings with the brothers in the past, such was their impact and influence on the market in recent years. But few were openly expressing opinions on the rights, wrongs or likely outcome of the day’s events (though the identity of the seven unnamed arrests was the subject of some speculation). MIPIM moves on. Heroes and villains come and go.
I remember very well standing with a bunch of guys in front of a TV screen on the unmanned RBS stand at Exporeal in October 2008 watching the horrors of the banking crisis unfold before our eyes. That was life changing. That defined the abrupt end of an era. An era in which the Tchenguiz brothers (and others) made their fortunes. But this is a very different world, a world in which the real estate market is moving on, is reinventing itself again and is dependent on the basics of simplicity and transparency to revive itself and lay the foundations for the next era of prosperity. The real estate world looks forward, not back.
And that was MIPIM Wednesday. Veni, vidi, vici….
March 10th, 09:00
Nicky Richmond: Joint managing partner and head of property finance at Brecher.
“They shall not pass” a phrase most famously used by the French General Robert Neville in the Battle of Verdun and the soldiers manning the Maginot line and adopted wholeheartedly as a strategy for wealth preservation by the organisers of MIPIM, Reed Midem. And like in the trenches, the penalty for crossing the line is pretty severe.
One of the most common MIPIM questions is “have you got a pass?” Given that the cost of registration can be as much as 1550 euro, you can imagine that the need (or otherwise) to register is a hot topic. Personally, I believe that I will survive without exploring investment opportunities in Wallachia and I’m not really mad for it in Manchester however I DO wish to be able to drink in the bar of my hotel and get on a boat in the port without the MIPIM police staring at my computerised mugshot every time I pass their checkpoints.
Flippancy aside, there are quite a lot of exhibitors that would be of interest and you could spend a lot of time speaking to the marketing bods manning the stands but it is a truth universally acknowledged that the best business gets done outside the Exhibition Hall and the type of people who do best at MIPIM (and the ones you really want to meet) are really not going to be manning the stands or at least not with a smile on their faces.
You can’t do everything and given the choice (and a smidgeon of sunshine) most people are going to choose the Croisette over the conference centre.
And I never did learn how that lawyer’s name was pronounced [see Day 2 blog], and I did get into the Savills dinner but I will draw a discreet veil over the proceedings. Suffice it to say that my eyeballs feel like they have been sandpapered this morning and the concealer is working overtime. All in the line of duty.
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