What does a lawyer get out of MIPIM?

As he heads for home Bruce Dear reflects on the value of attending MIPIM

Bruce Dear
Bruce Dear

MIPIM is over and my TGV is snaking through mauve mountains under endless blue sky, just north of Toulon. So what does a lawyer get out of MIPIM?

As one client said, “lawyers and fun are an oxymoron”, so maybe they don’t bring us to enliven the parties. We are also a fair way down most clients’ diary lists. We don’t bring them deals like agents. But we can overcome these handicaps. And the way we do it is what makes MIPIM work. 

First, the fun bit. My partner Will Densham treated clients to his excellent tennis, and did a passable, and quite prolonged, impression of Chris Martin on stage at Legal & General’s fabulous party. Lynde Marshall, my feisty South African partner, undoubtedly had the best hair and frocks in Cannes, apart from any clients reading this blog, of course. Best hair doesn’t just happen by accident. It involves an elaborate hair dressing operation and then looking like Nora Batty for a couple of hours a day. But it works.

Then it’s the relationships. I spent five hours at a lunch and then at our signature dinner at L’Affable with the CEO of a major Scandinavian pension fund. I now know their plans and acquisition pipeline for the year ahead, and have been invited to his house in Sweden to play chess and drink schnapps. Nowhere but MIPIM could you get that much relationship time with so much ease.

With an estimated 40,000 market players in town, MIPIM is a high-speed information exchange. So we know that Franco Sidoli, an exceptionally powerful Central London agent, thinks we did an excellent job on two acquisitions recently. He was telling people over dinner on Tuesday night. You can’t buy that sort of advertising.

I also found out at dinner that a key institutional player is really impressed with my partner William Naunton and I also struck up a good rapport with him. So a panelling opportunity that we might never have heard of without MIPIM. People tell you more and connect more readily when they’re away from home. MIPIM puts players into a pot and mixes them up – ideas, new connections and deals come out.

A break from the market grind makes time to form new relationships and cement old ones. Cannes contributes its unique character to the process. This is Scott Fitzgerald’s “hot, sweet South of France”, home to Grace Kelly and intense purple seas. It does have a louche side: “You can lose your shirt in Cannes, but just keep your stockings – then you’ll be able to earn it back,” quipped Dorothy Parker.

But all this gives Cannes an evanescent edge that you just wouldn’t get in a Docklands conference shed. Where would you rather do business?

Think of that next time you’re talking to your accounts department about MIPIM.

Bruce Dear is head of real estate investment at Eversheds