MIPIM 2010 Blog: Thursday 18th March

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. Latest: Tim Webb, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig Maher

11.05: Habib Ullah, banking partner, Nabarro

Being teetotal means that MIPIM week at Cannes does not quite carry the same allure to me as it does for some attendees. Having said that, the feel-good factor has definitely returned this year, and with the Cannes sun seeming to breed new optimism, one can’t help but feel glad to see in Spring in the south of France.

First, we had the rousing keynote speech by London mayor, Boris Johnson, extolling the virtues of London. As far as he is concerned the outlook for London comes with no bad news, unlike the kind of bad news the Prime Minister has to regularly endure. This prompted the analogy by BoJo of a “bad news sandwich”, where every morning each bit of bad news received by the PM has to be sandwiched by his bullied advisors with 2 bits of good news. BoJo tried to convince us that with London, there is no bad news at all – so, in fact, we apparently have a good news club sandwich!

Second, the EuroHypo cocktail party on Day 3 seemed to reinforce the widely held belief that debt seems to be slowly trickling its way back into the market. The party held at the Beach, Carlton Hotel, was rammed full with many a banker talking about deals s/he was working on, and even mentioning how interest margins have started to be chipped away at. I overheard one syndications banker trying to get a slug of another bank’s deal!

As someone said to me last night, MIPIM is about investors and professionals gauging where the market is, and the overall perception seems to be that things are improving. However, attendee numbers in Cannes are definitely down from previous years and there is still mention of the dreaded “double dip” or “W-shaped recovery”.

I will leave the final word to MIPIM veteran, and fellow teetotaller, Salmaan Hasan – chief executive of Minerva Plc, who I bumped into looking uber-cool in his shades on the Croisette at lunchtime today. He was cautiously optimistic, believing that we are through the worst of it, but that there is still a long way to go.

Let’s hope that BoJo has got it right!

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