MIPIM 2011: Day 1
9 March 2011
Hordes of real estate lawyers are in Cannes this week for MIPIM, but what are they really getting up to? Find out in our MIPIM blog all week.
Tuesday 8th March 2011, 17.30
Nicky Richmond: Joint managing partner and head of property finance at Brecher.
Having taken a year off last year, (needed a break after 14 years on the trot) am looking forward to a big and memorable MIPIM. Previous highlights:
- Trying not to watch the rather pale buttocks of one of my rather proper former male partners disappear down the beach as he ran into the sea for a dare, at 4 30 a.m. (you know who you are).
- Meeting a developer in the Martinez at 5 am whose first words to me were “I ******* hate bank’s lawyers” but who then asked his Bank (and 5 other Banks) to instruct my (then) firm on his work for the next decade.
We’re all older and wiser now and despite all the wisecracks (“there’s only one letter difference between networking and notworking”) it’s looking good. So far today (and today started at 4 30a.m.) I’ve managed to sit between two clients on the flight out; met a client on the plane and got them invited to a DTZ dinner, met a former client at the luggage carousel and am going to meet them later, had lunch with clients on the beach, met a fund manager who has asked us to pitch, as he doesn’t want continue to use the large firm he has inherited; introduced a client to a German Bank who are genuinely interested in funding his large mixed use site (we were 2 minutes away from him when I rang) ; met a relatively new bank contact who has recently asked me to pitch for work; bumped into a contact who we’ve introduced to a partner for a very unusual JV which, if it takes off, will be a huge deal and has already been mentioned in Parliament; spoken to a new client who has just asked me to help him out on matter to be done tomorrow with promise of lots of new work to follow, oh and I’m hosting a dinner for 10 this evening including Chinese and US contacts looking to invest in UK.
I’m just gathering myself for Bar Roma later and the maelstrom of bankers, lawyers and agents (in the words of Boris, the most unpopular group outside of Tripoli just now.) Beer at 10 euro a bottle- bargain. Welcome to MIPIM.
Tuesday 8th March 2011, 15.00
Iain Thomas, Real Estate Partner, LG
It is hard to feel anything other than positive at MIPIM - the sun shines, the wine flows, the food is great. And every year the mood is optimistic (with the obvious exception of 2008).
So it was with a spring in my step that I approached this evening’s dinner hosted by Fairacre at one of Cannes more reputable fish restaurants. Stuart Russell had gathered together a diverse bunch of lenders, investors (and lenders turned investors), asset managers, valuers, lawyers and just about every type of property professional that one could think of for his traditional “kick off” dinner. Predictably the mood was positive and everyone was polishing up their salespeak ahead of a couple of days of tough networking.
However, the upbeat mood cannot mask the fact that, listening to the real messages around the table, we are still a mile off a real and sustainable real estate recovery.
For every positive, there is still a qualification - the cost of money is still cheap BUT for how long? Funds are fully subscribed BUT there is still a chronic shortage of investment grade stock and a lack of appetite for secondary and below. Banks are starting to deal with their distressed portolios BUT not enough properties are being released to the market.
But perhaps the most damning and depressing statistic of all is that released by Savills in their traditional MIPIM assessment of the real estate lending market. That statistic shows that there are currently only 16 active lenders in the UK real estate market (in fact common opinion around the table cut this to 12, of which only 3 of the significant players are UK based - Nationwide, Barclays and HSBC).
And a further reality is that of those 12 lenders few have any appetite for anything over £50m on a sole underwrite, most won’t go above 60% LTV and hardly any are providing development finance.
No matter how much equity is out there, without decent stock or a competitive debt the market will never recover to anything approaching pre-2008 levels. The market needs a major influx of foreign debt and a significant release of distressed stock to start a sustainable recovery. It also needs a secondary market on which to distribute and trade debt - on current showings (particularly in the shadow of Basel III) that is light years away.
So the sun shines, the wine flows, the food is good, but like the breeze that blows down from the Southern Alps, beneath the sunny outlook the wind is still chill…
Tuesday 8th March 2011, 14.30
Bruce Dear, head of London real estate, Eversheds.
“MIPIM”. To the un-initiated it sounds like a kid’s TV character.
“Do people have to go to MIPIM? Is it important?”, said a corporate client of mine on Monday.
The answer is yes. Why? Because MIPIM is the UK’s biggest and most elaborate defensive drinking festival.
If you’re not in Cafe Roma with your clients at 2am then someone else is.
Mind you, I just don’t get Cafe Roma. Okay, so I go there every March; but in London it would be the star entry in any Bad Pub Guide.
In Cannes, just once a year, this unremarkable lager gazebo becomes a kind of boozing TARDIS.
The whole UK property industry crams itself inside, sharing market gossip between gulps of cold beer and generally having an incredible time of it (Roma blog to follow).
Of course, MIPIM starts with the journey down. How you get there matters.
Every year intrepid, fundraising MIPIMITES rally down in vintage cars and motor bikes and other (even madder) MIPIMITES cycle down. I haven’t heard of anyone swimming to Cannes yet, but they will.
For me this year, it’s the long and relaxing Eurostar journey to Nice. The train will stop 200 yards from my hotel and I will have all day to work, read and watch the French countryside unroll outside the window.
That’s the theory, but it doesn’t start well. Last night, I unwisely had an (honestly) moderate amount of champagne to celebrate the exchange of a multi-million pound purchase. We were all utterly delighted to get it through.
However, champagne and getting up at 5am to catch the 7.22am Eurostar are not happy bedfellows.
But I fight back and, by the time we pull into Paris, I am feeling cheered by a giant Pain au Chocolat and copious amounts of coffee.
Now to change trains. This is the moment my secretary and my wife will be expecting panicky calls. How do I get to the Gare de Lyon? Where does the Nice train go from? What city am I in? I have the directional sense of a very lost sheep.
Somehow, I hold it together. I find the right line and end up on the top floor (great view) of an SNCF double decker.
I feel I have achieved something. This is a bit silly really as I am nearly 47 and all I have done is catch the right train to Nice. Still we all need our little triumphs.
My deck is full of casually stylish French people, effortlessly polished and so confidently relaxed about (what else?) simply being French.
The lady opposite me is reading Paris Match and stroking a mini-Yorkshire terrier that she is carrying in her shopping bag. From time to time she feeds it pieces of baguette. Somehow she manages to look incredibly cool.
This proves style is nine-tenths geography. Feeding a dog in a shopping bag would not be cool in Cleethorpes.
MIPIM rushes towards us across the vast fields of France and with it more blogs and perhaps just a little more champagne…
Tuesday 8th March 2011, 09:00
Deborah Parry, Real Estate partner, Nabarro
…Diary of an angry old woman at MIPIM…
Day one: alcohol intake 12 units (I made that up), ciggies 0 (never took it up), calories…..too numerous to mention….and no Mr Darcy as yet.
And so to Cannes, after an absence of seven years. Well, many of the faces are the same, if a little longer and the hotels are in more or less the same places as I remember them. But this is a far more serious affair than in years gone by. In addition to a letter of introduction, passport, full anti money laundering checks (and that’s just to pick up the pass to the bunker), every entry into the bunker, smart hotel etc involves submitting to the visual recognition machine, that even the UK Border people have yet to adopt. So no sharing passes chaps. Believe me: it will be easier to get back into Blighty than into the bar of the Carlton…., so we went to the Martinez instead.
And, is it hard work I hear you ask, for those of you covering the files we have left behind, with a quick Post-it note to say: ’Nothing should happen on this file’ (note to self, next time make sure something happens on said files or they will think I have nothing better to do and AM dispensable. You bet it is! Schlepping up and down that Croisette all day in ridiculous shoes, smiling - ALL THE TIME - that’s hard but someone has to do it.
In the few moments available between smiling, you can pick up the BlackBerry and send the odd email to some unsuspecting victim, just so you’re not forgotten back home.
Tomorrow, they tell me, it all gets more intensive, so let’s see.