Looking back, to look forward

As we go live with our first edition of 2023, it is almost a year since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, triggering political shockwaves and economic turmoil worldwide.

For real estate, like many other industries, much of last year was spent dealing with the fallout from the war, which resulted in a series of interest rate hikes as central banks sought to tame soaring inflation. But as the new year gets under way, there is hope of better times, as inflation passes its peak and real estate values stabilise at new levels.

Economists say the eurozone is in for a milder recession than previously forecast, with business sentiment gradually improving. In this issue we present views on the year ahead from across the industry, which together paint a good picture of what we are likely to expect.

Many of these insights are based on what happened in 2022, so our Top 25 Deals table and the five standout transactions analysed in depth provide useful pointers for investment activity this year. They also reveal major trends that are likely to shape the market in 2023, from a continued polarisation in the office market to an increased shift to alternatives and ongoing focus on ESG.

The lawyers consulted for our 2022 Law Firm Ranking – our fifth annual league table of the firms that advised on the year’s biggest transactions – provide valuable comment too, having been close to the action and in touch with firms likely to strike again in 2023.

One person watching the market closely and relishing the challenges ahead is Duncan Owen, the subject of this month’s Big Interview. In his first interview since establishing Immobel Capital Partners in January 2022, the CEO of the new investment firm says: ‘I think there’s a magnificent opportunity. I think we’re only just beginning to see the consequences of the misallocation of capital since the global financial crisis.’

We also highlight a real estate angle to the war in Ukraine: the cost to the country’s retail and retail property sector. Maksym Gavryushyn, head of the Ukrainian Council of Shopping Centres (UCSC), recounts how retailers and landlords are determined to keep operations going despite massive destruction and power cuts, and how many have started restoration work, without waiting for the end of the war.

That is a prediction we don’t make in this issue, and yet is the question on everyone’s lips: when will the Ukraine war end?


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