Cannes of firms

As always, Mipim involved a mix of business both within the Palais des Festivals and, perhaps more importantly, within the hotels and restaurants dotted along Cannes’ Croisette. At presentations inside the Palais this year, much of the focus was on real estate investment opportunities outside Western Europe – in particular in Asia, the Middle East and Central and Eastern Europe.

But there was a consensus among many that while returns on such deals can be good, risks are higher, in part because the legal systems are not so well developed.

On investment opportunities in Dubai, Richard Cotton, senior partner of surveyors Cluttons, said property law needed resolving. Despite Dubai being one of the more Westernised parts of the Middle East, the legal system is still immature, he said. And while it may not be a problem when times are good, when disputes occur investors need to know there is a legal system that will protect them. “Dubai needs to develop the system to a much greater extent than they have today,” he added.

Likewise, in areas such as Qatar, which surveyors have identified as a top investment opportunity, the situation is much worse. “It’s significantly behind Dubai,” said Cotton. Until the legal systems are improved in developing markets, more cautious investors will stay away.

But caution inside the Palais did not dampen the spirits of those discussing deals. Lawyers were out in force, grabbing any business development opportunities that came along.

All in all, there was much to suggest that the sun is really shining on the real estate world – just as it was in Cannes.