MIPIM 2011: Day 4
11 March 2011
As MIPIM draws to a close, it is time to reflect on the biggest event in a property lawyer’s calendar
Nicky Richmond, Joint managing partner and head of property finance at Brecher.
March 11th, 15:00
I really could have done without the Gallic shrug from the doorman at the hotel when the taxi for the airport failed to turn up. An accident on the freeway and the world grinds to a halt. Nasty visions of having to get the helicopter at 100 Euros a pop to avoid the traffic or the prospect of having to wait for another flight at Nice airport, where the facilities compare to those of, say East Midlands. Perhaps not even as good as that.
Having managed to get to the airport through sheer determination and not a little hysteria with the cab company, we meet various contacts and clients in “Speedy” boarding bag drop queue. Clearly the majority have bought “speedy” boarding so it is anything but, and my colleague, who did not check in online never mind get “speedy” boarding, sails through ahead of us to security.
In the interminable queue, as I dispense Blackberry advice, I am seriously considering holding a seminar for clients on Blackberry shortcuts. I appear to be known as the woman who can sort out your IT issues (which I can) and this is of far more interest to clients than any legal issue. Added value, I think it’s called.
On the flight and it’s fairly subdued. Sitting in front of an über ‘resi’ agent who tells me he can guess where I live. I love this game, because I live in a village with no named roads and less than 30 houses.
Getting back to the conference (and my liver is grateful that I don’t have to for another year) the general buzz seems to be that there although there were fewer people, those here were the ones who could do the business. MIPIM is no longer a reward for a good year, or an entitlement on the grounds of buggin’s turn. Everyone wants to talk about money; who has it, who’s lost it, who’s lending it, who’s not, who’s selling debt, who’s doing mezz, which funds are real and which are to be avoided and what’s going to happen to interest rates this year. Everyone wants to be introduced to everyone else and with dozens of introductions already made Valerie Brecher’s little black book is already under lock and key.
In truth, there’s a sense of relief that we’ve all survived the worst, but no –one is taking life easy and everyone is cautious about the year ahead. We came, we schmoozed, we connected. Back to your desks, the real work begins now.
Bruce Dear, Head of London Real Estate, Eversheds LLP.
March 11th, 14:00
At lunch in the White Palm Hotel, the talk turns to Aston Martins.
As everyone knows, (the “Aston Club Member” informs me), the vintage 1960s
“James Bond” model is reliable,but difficult to keep in tune and tricky to
drive “by today’s standards”.
My other lunch companion has had regular (and somewhat unfortunate) problems
with his “modern” Aston’s fuel pipe.
I also had a lot of trouble with my Aston Martin.
In 1968 I owned a silver “James Bond” Aston Martin. It was one of my first
I remember that it was particularly unreliable if thrown from Mum and Dad’s
bedroom window into our blue paddling pool.
And frankly, its plastic rockets and “scythe” hub caps broke disappointingly
easily and it didn’t stand up as well as it could have done to my sister
jumping on it.
My social antennae tell me that these are not acceptable Aston anecdotes.
I also resist the temptation to tell them about my sensible blue Toyota
Avensis and how my sons (7 and 10) have reduced the back seat to a kind of
Best MIPIM strap line:
“Stockholm is plug in and play for your business.
All that’s missing is you.”
Bruce Dear, Head of London Real Estate, Eversheds LLP
March 11th, 09:00
Day Three – Part Two
On the way back from dinner in rue Lecerf, I pass a shop offering Foot and FISH Massage.
Now I am old and I have been around quite a few blocks (ask my friends)-but a FISH Massage? What on earth is that?
I look in the window in search of answers. I see-what!?
Yes, (however implausibly) it’s actually a tank of small, lively little silver fish and they look very hungry and extremely energetic.
Frankly, (it comes to me suddenly) they look like they are swimming around in search of ladies’ feet.
I know, you probably think it’s just me, but please read on…
Closer inspection of the pictures in the shop window reveal that this massage parlour’s main business proposition is as follows:
(1) elegant, beautifully manicured lady (this is the South of France) comes into massage parlour,
(2) she sits on any one of a number of cream leather seats,
(3) she inserts both feet into the welcoming fish tank, and then (brace yourself)
(4) the very helpful and willing little silver fishes eat all of the said elegant lady’s corns, hard skin and generally unattractive pedical extrusions.
Frankly, you couldn’t make it up…though it occurs to me that the fishes look very content with their job.
Then, perhaps unsurprisingly, I start to walk towards Cafe Roma…
But I decide to walk along the beach as this is the last night of MIPIM.
All the gin palaces that have illuminated the harbour with gaudy disco lights for the last week (including an enormous one bannered “Now Brazil”), have now gone.
Day Three: Part Three
Now a lot of colleagues have been taking the mickey out of my pompous talk of L’Affable and it’s perfect soufflé.
And, OK, you probably agree with them.
But the soufflé isn’t always perfect.
Today’s menu at a nameless restaurant proved that (trust me, you don’t want its name).
This was it:
Very watery guacamole (I tell you, our guinea pigs would not have eaten it-and they are partial to a bit of old avocado),
An entrecote that looked like it had been carved using a particularly vicious grenade launcher and then very quickly camouflaged with mud and twigs (apparently this covering was “onion gravy”).
It reminded me of one of Baldric’s dishes (Blackadder fans will remember his ingenuity with things found in trenches).
A “rum baba” that looked (and felt) like one of the grenades that had done for the poor main course.
It was sitting underneath that final touch of all the very worst restaurants-a ridged blob of aerosol “cream”.
Serves you right Bruce, I hear you say, swanning about at MIPIM, expecting to eat really nice food, when the rest of us are fee earning.
Maybe a fair point.
But I don’t think even I deserved to wake up at 330 am (when I am writing this), dreaming that my entrecote had come to life and was strangling me.
Even my Finance Partner, David Watkins, who has asked me to account in detail for the souffle, wouldn’t want me to go through that, would he?
OK, don’t answer that David.
March 11th, 09:05
Iain Thomas, Real Estate Partner, LG
In the words of Magnus Magnusson…
I’ve started so I’ll finish. Today was a test of stamina. Kicking off with a 9am breakfast meeting and ending with drinks aboard a client’s boat well after midnight following a sumptuous meal at the Moulin de Mougins, 16 hours of solid networking has finally taken its toll on Team LG. Nick Turner’s white sequined disco creation with integral chest wig remains untouched in its suit carrier, eschewed in favour of a couple of Rennies and some comfy jimjams. Shapes remain un-thrown. The distant sound of throbbing dance beats is drowned out by the gentle sound of snoring.
Nick and I worked out that we have a combined 34 MIPIMs between us which I guess primarily qualifies us as old farts, but which also gives us a good sense of perspective on how moods and sentiments have fluctuated over the last 17 years. The overriding impression left with us this year was one of a still embattled, somewhat punch drunk sector desperately seeking positives from a set of economic circumstances which are screaming “double dip” at us but which we are manfully trying to keep at bay.
As ever the Brits are leading the way in the stiff upper lip stakes and those who are making the trip back to the UK today and tomorrow will be assiduous in their follow up of leads and opportunities.
And what of the lawyers? What is in it for them? Is MIPIM just a four-day, gratuitous junket? All good questions and here are a few answers:
1. MIPIM is the biggest real estate conference in the world, and therefore the biggest networking opportunity. If you are serious about real estate business development, you ought to be here.
2. Pretty much all of the UK (and indeed global) property industry’s main players have representation here. Which means that your clients are probably here. If you are not schmoozing them, someone else will be.
3. MIPIM acts as a barometer for the real estate industry - where else can you meet and mix with representatives from all of the component sectors over such a short period and in such a small area? You can meet more people over the four days at MIPIM than you would in four months in the office.
4. MIPIM has internal benefits too - spending four days eating, drinking and living with your colleagues is a great way to get to know them (especially if like me you are still the relative ‘new boy’).
Anyway - That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Now learn this by heart and keep repeating it as you hand in your expenses claims…
Hope to see you again in 2012!
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