What was the mood like at Mipim and what were the big talking points? Editor-in-chief Robin Marriott reports back on his takeaways.
People always ask what the mood is like at Mipim? ‘Good’ is my answer. But how you feel going home depends on your personal experience in Cannes – how many good meetings did you have, did you fail to make some, did you bump into old contacts, did you learn something new, was the weather warm enough to sit outside and did the waiter serve coffee promptly?
Personally, I enjoyed playing chess against the World Number One, Magnus Carlsen, catching up with the investment managers, and being on a rooftop for our logistics event. I did not enjoy the days after leaving Cannes: losing my voice and developing a bad cough – ‘Mipim flu’ it is called.
But anyway, the PropertyEU team came away with plenty of news and views. Retail property – the subject of our special report this month – is one incredibly interesting area people were talking about at Mipim and back at their desks. People such as Florencio Beccar, CEO of new firm Axis Retail Partners, which is part of Generali Group, are suggesting prime high-quality malls will come onto the market. Somehow linked, owners of retail know that the best way to protect existing assets through this turbulence is to find ways to get people into their centres, even if that includes building residential next door for a captive customer base!
There were plenty of other takeaways from Mipim. One has been directly taken away and implemented at PropertyEU. Following testing with contacts during the event, we have decided to introduce Living Watch as an investment category to catch all the residential strategies on the radar now – Build-to-Rent (BTR), micro living, student accommodation, apart-hotels, care homes, and so on. It replaces Residential Watch.
The other thing is the trend towards open-ended funds. More and more managers are introducing them or converting closed-end funds into perpetual models. BNP Paribas REIM, the subject of our Big Interview, is a case in point with its pan-Europe office fund with a sustainability angle.
On the subject of big managers, I detect another common high-level theme. In Europe, there are something like seven, eight, maybe nine real estate strategies that make sense to pursue in this market. But the issue is you can really only pursue say two or three in any one year. You could say this is a high class problem; investors still want this asset class and the successful managers have many things they like and want (until investors decide to reallocate away again from property).
How many and which strategies a firm can pursue is a question of internal resources, plus being very careful not to A. confuse investors with too many offerings, and B. not cannibalise existing products. Firms like to keep their entrepreneurial streak and are loath to reject additional business. But sometimes you just have to say, ‘You know what, we don’t feel we are the best equipped or placed for that strategy right now.’
And of course, no-one mentioned Brexit (except everyone).