Diversity is the spice of life

Where it’s the topic of discussion or the attendees’ country of origin, MIPIM is more diverse than ever, says Olaf Schmidt

Olaf Schmidt
Olaf Schmidt

Perhaps the best thing about MIPIM is how diverse the focus is: it really does cover every sector and asset class. Over the past two days I’ve had some great discussions about everything from sovereign wealth fund investment into Europe and the attractiveness of the Chinese real estate market to global investors to the likely course of the Italian real estate market over the next two years and the interest of insurance companies and other alternative finance providers in playing a more important role in the European real estate market. I know that my colleagues have also been discussing hotels, logistics and a whole host of issues around debt financing, which seems to be one of the hottest topics of the conference.

Just as Expo has become far more international over the past few years, MIPIM has also become ever more global, with – from what I have seen – a marked increase in the number of people attending from the US and Asia-Pacific. This has certainly increased the number of appointments in my diary and I’ve had the slightly dubious pleasure of starting my MIPIM meetings at 7:30am and going through to 8:00pm before joining a dinner or drinks party, so a little part of me – undoubtedly the part that likes sleeping – can’t wait to return to business as usual.

Some of the behaviour and conversations that take place are a little like groundhog day – developers coming to see advisers to ask about potential investors, investors complaining that the conference is full of advisers who are just trying to sell to them and everyone checking out their competition to see who has the most sophisticated stand, the biggest boat, or is making the biggest splash about their new product.

The crazy parties and excesses of MIPIM pre-2008 are gone, which I’m thankful for as it as it was all a bit much. These days the events and the entertainment are all more measured and the attitudes of the participants are more adult. It is much easier to identify which companies are truly committed to real estate as they continue to invest in their presence at MIPIM. The cowboys have disappeared, leaving only the serious players in the market.

Olaf Schmidt is a partner at DLA Piper