Good on all levels

It’s amazing what you can pick up while strolling up and down the Croisette, says Nick Ellis


Nick Ellis
Nick Ellis

It’s Thursday, my voice is starting to break and I have walked the Croisette and bunker constantly since Monday morning. That flight at 10.30 tomorrow morning is looking very appealing…..

“MIPIM is good on all levels.” That is how a former head of real estate at a leading UK firm introduced me to the event about 10 years ago.
It did not – in my view – work for a couple of years at the height of the boom, where you couldn’t get a table in a restaurant without booking a year in advance or paying a (hefty) tip before you even sat down.

In the past four years the event has improved substantially. Gone are the hordes of salesman touting business for everything from air-conditioning to live-in security guards for that problem site you own. MIPIM is back to being a quality delegate away-day(s).

Clients have commented on how good the time away is for giving them breathing and thinking space; meeting new contacts to create business opportunities and also meeting up with established partners, funders and consultants.

Everyone turns up with a story. The first thing they tell you this year is of their nightmare journey getting here due to the weather in the UK. Last week in Cannes they also had extreme weather causing landslides and bus replacement services on trains. Nice to know that the UK is not the only place to suffer.

MIPIM works for me because of its international appeal; investors travel from all over the world. On four days I get to meet up with contacts from the east and west coast of the US as well as Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Germany, Qatar – the list goes on. In the meetings of typically 30 minutes they download their pitch as to why they are here and what they are looking for.

As the event peaks the Martinez bar heaves with the UK contingent networking until 4 or 5am, I find myself talking with old friends – agents and other lawyers – trying to bottom out what the trends for this year are. Everyone is talking about London. Before I got here I was hearing domestically the view that prime London had peaked and if anything was overpriced. International investors are not so sure about that.

But in any event greater London and the South East are in strong demand from investors. They are not rattled by the raft of bad news on the UK economy over the past few weeks – if anything they seem to think that a service sector-led recovery has already started.

The legendary huge cocktail parties are not as obvious anymore. Events are smaller and their guest lists are well thought out and therefore good contacts can be made.

Then there is ‘the bunker’, as usual the exterior is one big billboard extolling the virtues of everywhere from Turkey to Manchester. Given the sunshine it’s hard to find a reason to stay inside long so it’s back out and once more a long walk along the Croisette….

Nick Ellis is a consultant solicitor at Keystone Law