Commercial Property Blog

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MIPIM 2012: Why making a Splash in Cannes is vital for UK growth

Posted by: Andrew Teacher, Tue, 13 Mar 2012

A week ago, sodden and shivering after returning back to my apartment somewhere off Christian Dior Street, I questioned why I had recontrar-ed to Mipim. I figured some of the boats may had departed since my last visit in 2009. I knew I probably wouldn’t see anyone from the SFO downing canapés on the Tchenguiz yacht, but I never thought the weather would be as angry as that recent mid-market tabloid splash hideously implying that Mipim was all about public officials embarking on seedy pursuits.
 
While JLL’s Monday night bash with London First and the deputy mayor was a who’s who of industry folk, the vibe around Cannes was admittedly akin to an Italian cruise liner: cold, wet and sinking fast.
 
Switch forward to Friday, and Tom Bloxham ushering property A-listers into his mountain-top pool with the promise of one final glass of bubbly was a sight to behold. It was a wonderful afternoon spent in the company of Mancunia and luckily for all concerned, those dipping in were urban splashers rather flashers.
 
Other parts of Mipim were a bit more bare, however. Anyone who snuck down in the basement of ‘the bunker’ – the not-so-affectionate term given to Mipim’s conference centre – couldn’t have helped noticing the sparseness of quality developers. Various Russian stands extolled the virtues of faraway lands while Formula One-style female flag wavers swooned from great heights, hanging out free kittens to anyone who’d take a brochure. As the girls shimmied around, stilt-like, with thighs at most people’s shoulder height, there was the overriding feeling that we perhaps needed two Mipims.

One would be for all the real stuff that might one day be built and the other could house all the Playmobil stuff in made-up places.
 
But many people thought Qatar was a made-up place until a few years back. And one pointed remark made by one senior observer was how much closer the Qatar stand was getting to the London Stand. Next year it will have totally swallowed it up.

The prominence of London certainly irked many of Mipim’s regional UK representatives. But as investment continues to pile in to the capital, the two-tier recovery shows little signs of levelling out. And even those investment firms based in the North admitted much of their business was focused down South.

And what of criticism around the attendance of public bodies, such as councils and the Crown Estate and by war-hero Olympics minister Hugh Robertson? Well, like much of the gutter press currently in the dock, most will have the good sense to ignore it. They very thought that – in a time of mass austerity – public developments shouldn’t be actively seeking foreign investment on the only real world stage available to them if frankly ludicrous. But one week ahead of the Budget, there’s little value in too many seeking a big debate on the subject.

As the weather perked up from Tuesday, so did the fizz in the air. Parties were toned down and some resembled Travel Lodge weddings, but the atmosphere was one of positivity

Despite Mipim legend and former Hogan Lovells boss Bob Kidby retiring a couple of years back, the legal elite still managed to rock their way through Cannes led by Kidby’s protégée, HL partner Matthew Ditchburn, the industry’s best known insolvency lawyer. It’s fair to say he’s a bit more fresh-faced than some of the other legal elite who were in attendance and renditions of The Killers and Kings of Leon’s hits certainly offered a new backdrop for people to grab a ‘Partner’ by the hand to.

And as some of the UK’s signature regeneration projects around Stratford, Kings Cross and Salford begin to breath new life into our economy, we should be looking to project ourselves abroad. Just as ministers are beginning to realise we’re competing on a global stage with aviation, so we are with property. And if attendance at the Tom’s Friday Urban Splash-athon is indicative of a healthy market, maybe we’ll see a few more developers – rather than developments – under water this time next year.

Blogging? Me?

Posted by: Tue, 20 May 2008

When Giles Barrie, Property Week’s editor and a friend for nearly 20 years, asked me to start a blog, I had my doubts.
A swift search through the internet suggested that every hack worth his or her salt seemed to be churning them out, so why not join them. Yet, once I started to read business-related ones, I realised that many lapsed into either self-indulgence or get-a-life dullness.
Perhaps, that’s the point. Whatever, since it is Property Week that pays my salary and I have no desire to join the ranks of the unemployed, my doubts have been cast aside. Here I am.
In the days, weeks, and, tempting fate, months to come I expect to opine about a broad range of subjects that make me happy (the West Wing, children, living outside London, sushi, Spurs sometimes) and things that get my back up (far too many to mention). Please respond at will.

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