What a week it has been!
I had a sneaking suspicion that the great British public, frightened by the prospect of ongoing political uncertainty, would turn out en masse last Thursday and force certainty on the situation. And boy did they turn out… to the extent that even the shock exit poll understated the Tories’ ultimate majority.
Many in the industry are breathing a huge sigh of relief that mansion tax, the abolition of non-dom status and rent controls are now no longer on the cards, as we report in our special post-election news analysis and commentary. However, we now face the prospect of an EU referendum (and perhaps another Scottish one) and the fear remains that if we do leave the EU, it will reduce the UK’s attractiveness to international investors.
Opinion is sharply divided on the impact of Brexit and whether it would hinder deals such as Middle Eastern investor Apache Capital Partners’ £1bn joint venture with Moda Living to create the UK’s first regional private rented sector (PRS) platform. You would hope not, as overseas investment is clearly playing an integral role in driving the growth of sectors such as the PRS, student housing and mixed use, as the 1,250 residential heavyweights gathered at London’s Grosvenor House for the fourth annual RESI Awards this Wednesday will attest.
Crucially, it is driving growth in the regions as well as the capital - paradoxically helping power up concepts such as the Northern Powerhouse. Lose it and the UK will lose out. It is not as if there is no competition globally to attract foreign investment, as we report in our fascinating features on the fortunes of former gambling mecca Atlantic City and post-quake Japan.
In keeping with the international theme in this special issue to coincide with Mipim Japan, it is interesting to see what’s happening on the mergers and acquisitions front, what with the announcement of DTZ’s long-rumoured acquisition of Cushman & Wakefield (C&W) from Exor for £1.3bn and Colliers and GM Real Estate confirming they have called off their tie-up.
The consensus is that C&W and DTZ are a good fit, with DTZ’s FM and professional services fitting neatly into the agency-driven C&W team. But, inevitably, there will be job losses. It also leaves Colliers trailing, and following the collapse of the GM Real Estate deal it will be looking to fill that gap soon. In other words, the C&W/DTZ deal is not likely to be the last of the mergers and takeovers this year.
At the outset, we predicted 2015 would be the year of mergers and takeovers, and it is certainly looking that way at the moment, even if not all of them come off.
Back to residential, we also warned there was a danger of the London market, in particular, overheating - and with a string of positive market updates from the housebuilders and the likes of Berkeley seeing their shares rise sharply on the election outcome, the fear that such relentless growth is unsustainable will only have intensified this week.
On last week’s news of the flat flipping going on at Nine Elms, talk of a bubble was dismissed. With many of the impediments to residential market growth removed by Labour’s thumping defeat, it will not be so readily dismissed now.