MIPIM blog 4: The Yachts

What do Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham have in common? The only English cities to have provided European Cup winning teams?

MIPIM blog 4: The YachtsThursday 12 March 9am

What do Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham have in common? The only English cities to have provided European Cup winning teams? No, this year they share the distinction of having a boat at Cannes for MIPIM. Do they think their council tax payers won’t find out? (They know now..)

Allen & Overy is conspicuous by its absence this year. But Freshfields, Norton Rose and Lovells are here, along with Jones Day and Orrick for the Americans – and they’re all daring to be seen flying the flag from a well turned mast.

I’m guessing that the firms just put on a brave face and decided to turn up rather than lose the deposits they paid a year ago. Those lucky enough to be on the boats are finding they have much more elbow room, with almost everyone reporting much smaller teams this year.

Freshfields has a quarter of last year’s contingent, and Lovells significantly down, although they sensibly use the occasion for overseas partners to get together. Not that anyone would notice the absences though: The giant frame of Freshfields’ John Fordham fills a boat by itself and the gregarious Chris Morris greets all-comers with enthusiasm.

Bob Kidby likewise for Lovells, always charming and as always armed with guitar for his regular appearances with Clarence King and the Regents. Our Dewey and LeBoeuf team is similarly reduced this year: Ralph Wagner from Frankfurt, Carmine Oncia from Milan (plus me from London) make up this year’s contingent – half of last year’s team. But numbers are not the be all and end all: it’s being here at all that counts – if you are in the market, you have to be here.

The boats, of course, are still there, but not so many of them have corporate regalia – when was a spare gin palace last spotted during a MIPIM? Some of the more conspicuous users of the huge boats, such as ING and the Russians, seem to have moved on. Savills seems to have moved on to the coffee kiosk on the Croisette which was previously used by DLA Piper, of which there is no outward sign this year.

The boats used to be crammed together so tightly that a drunken lawyer or surveyor could not even fall over the side in the gaps between them (though the probability of falling over the front or back remains as high as ever).