‘City’ rather than ‘country’ focus is hot among investors, who are stewarding capital to play into the urban demand story just about everywhere. It is also the central theme of this year's Mipim and a leitmotif in PropertyEU's March edition, writes deputy editor-in-chief Robin Marriott.
Let’s face it, we are hearing a lot about cities. Smart investing in Europe these days means greater emphasis on urbanisation and getting down and dirty at local level. As youth empowerment advocate Adora Svitak will say at Mipim, the 21st century is dominated by the city, rather than by the US or China, Brazil or India.
Which is my lead into this question: do you really know what is happening in Dijon, Helsinki, and Stockholm or further afield in Seoul and Singapore? Well, our reporter Isobel Lee does as she shares her discoveries in her ‘SuperPowers of tomorrow’ feature in our Mipim edition. There are, apparently, 10 new city types that are must-knows in terms of modern-day vernacular, so if you want to look plugged in during that board meeting, investment committee or during pitches I suggest reading Isobel's article so that you know the difference between The Big Seven, Contenders, Hybrids, and Innovators.
We also have a huge report on Holland Metropole, an alliance between the Netherland’s four biggest cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht (where PropertyEU is relocating to in June). It seems Holland is doing exactly what the RICS is calling for, which is for cities to join forces to tackle the potent mix of challenges from increased urbanisation and the introduction of multiple new technologies.
Urban demand theme
‘City’ rather than ‘country’ focus is just huge and it runs through our March issue like a vein. It reflects the reality of how European firms from the top down are channelling capital to play into the urban demand theme. Hines Europe's CEO Lars Huber is just one example, as is Gecina’s CEO Méka Brunel – who like Huber is one year into the job as CEO. In an interview with PropertyEU, she explains that her company has a new strategy of refocusing around urban office and living spaces in its Paris ‘playground’.
Continuing the French flavour – apt given many will be reading this down in Cannes – we also reveal how Amundi is adapting to life as a prevalent buyer of core buildings in gateway cities. It is planning to expand its investor base from retail to institutional investors. This is a nice juxtaposition with what is happening in the US where we report on the multi-trillion-dollar opportunity for firms to attract into their funds wealthy individuals via retail channels.
There’s an awful lot more showcased in our March issue, from analysis of the fascinating co-working trend to European recapitalisations and big deals the PropertyEU team has picked out during these past four weeks.
To add a personal note, if I had already made my billions I would try to emulate Elon Musk in an underwater version to his space vision: over the next 40 years I would be looking to invest in underwater eco-cities in parts of the world endangered by rising sea levels! That’s a mega trend that won’t go away. It is reported humans will live underwater in the next century, so why not get first-mover advantage!
For now, see you on some dry land next to the sea? Mipim is here!