UPDATED Continental European CRE investors join Mipim coronavirus exodus

Several Continental European investment firms including Italy’s Dea Capital Real Estate, Germany's Commerz Real, ECE and WealthCap, announced on Friday that they have cancelled plans to attend Mipim, as the spread of coronavirus continues.

A spokesperson for Dea Capital, which is based in Milan, said the company no longer intended to attend the event. ‘We have written an official letter to Mipim asking to know where they stand by March 2. Our intention is not to take part as most of our team is based in Milan (where a large part of the new coronavirus cases are located) and we fear that we would be blocked at the border,’ the spokesperson said. The company is expected to issue an official statement on Monday.

German property investors Commerz Real, ECE and Wealthcap as well as consultancy firm Drees & Sommer have also said they will not be attending.

The news comes as the first French group also pulled out. Broker BNP Paribas said on Friday afternoon that it had reconsidered its attendance. ‘As a result of the global concern related to the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, we have decided to withdraw from MIPIM. This difficult decision is a precautionary measure founded on our commitment to putting the safety of our employees, clients, and partners first. In these difficult circumstances, we wish to express our solidarity with those affected by the epidemic and to thank the health institutions for their implication,’ a BNP Paribas Real Estate spokesperson said.

UK-based property services firms also continue to cancel. Earlier today, agents CBRE and JLL confirmed they had pulled out. CBRE said this morning: ‘With the safety and wellbeing of our people at the forefront of our considerations, we have decided to withdraw CBRE’s attendance at Mipim this year, in light of the confirmed cases of coronavirus in Continental Europe. We continue to monitor and assess our attendance at all upcoming events and associated travel.’

JLL said: 'After careful consideration, we have decided to withdraw from MIPIM to ensure we can continue to protect the health and well-being of our employees and clients.' 

Colliers has pulled out too. 'Putting the health and wellbeing of our employees and clients first is our top priority, so after considerable discussion and a full review of advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other authorities, as a precautionary measure Colliers International has decided not to attend MIPIM 2020. As a responsible employer we can't ignore the increasing spread of COVID-19 across Europe.'

The RICS has also issued a statement saying it will not attend. 

RICS global CEO Sean Tompkins, said: 'In light of concerns about the ongoing spread of coronavirus, RICS has made the unfortunate decision to withdraw from MIPIM 2020. This hasn’t been an easy decision, however, the health and wellbeing of all our people is our foremost priority. We remain committed to working collaboratively to bring about positive change across the built and natural environment, and our excellent partnership with Reed MIDIM – the organisers of MIPIM – remains an important one for us.

'We look forward to resuming our participation in future MIPIM events, and hope that the global risks posed by coronavirus are mitigated swiftly.'  

US logistics giant Prologis is withdrawing as well. 'Regrettably, due to the ongoing spread of coronavirus cases in Europe, we have  decided to withdraw from attending MIPIM this year,' it said. Other firms known to have cancelled are Tristan Capital, Avison Young and LaSalle Investment.

Mipim statement
Despite cancellations, the organisers of Mipim have insisted the event will go ahead. On Friday, the show issued this statement, ‘Firstly, we extend our best wishes to those clients who have made the very difficult decision to not attend MIPIM 2020. We do not underestimate how challenging this decision has been for them. They are long-standing members of the MIPIM family and we look forward to welcoming them back in 2021. However, while we appreciate the situation is continually evolving, as of today more than 90% of companies remain committed to attend MIPIM. Therefore, we reconfirm that MIPIM will run as scheduled on 10-13 March.’

It added: ‘Our decision is based on current facts and guidance from local, national and international authorities including the World Health Organization. There is no travel ban in place across France, and France and Cannes are not identified as areas of concern.

'MIPIM will have a dedicated medical team in place in Cannes and will be working with the city and health authorities to ensure that any delegate will have access to full medical treatment and guidance in the unlikely event that it is required.’

Case in Cannes
Meanwhile, a 23-year old student in Cannes has tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the first case in the Cote d’Azur region.

Yesterday a string of UK and US companies including Prudential Financial's PGIM Real Estate arm, UK REIT Land Securities and brokers Knight Frank, C&W and Savills all announced their decision to pull out of Mipim on the back of the new coronavirus outbreak. German consulting firm Drees & Sommer is also believed to have withdrawn its participation.

In a statement, PGIM said: 'Due to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus, PGIM Real Estate has taken the difficult decision that it will not attend Mipim this year. The health and wellbeing of our employees is, and always will be, our utmost priority.'

Similarly, Knight Frank said: 'The evolving nature of COVID-19 in Europe has forced us to reconsider our presence at large multi-national events. To that end we will no longer be attending Mipim. The health and security of our people and clients are of utmost importance and have to be prioritised over all else.'

Broker Savills confirmed that it has withdrawn from Mipim noting that the health and safety of its staff 'must take priority'. 'As a business that puts employees’ and clients’ wellbeing first and foremost, Savills considers health and safety to be of absolute priority. Given the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, and the increasing number of cases in Europe, together with the fact that Mipim involves many thousands of people travelling from multiple countries across the world, in the light of developments over the past week, the firm considers that it would be inappropriate to attend,' Savills said.

Mark Ridley, Group and Global CEO of Savills, commented: 'Due to the scale and size of this conference, and the importance of the event to our industry, this decision has not been taken lightly but our absolute priority is the welfare of our staff as well as avoiding any service disruption to our clients in light of increased coronavirus cases across Europe. Our thoughts at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world.'

Land Securities has not issued an official statement but confirmed to PropertyEU that it will no longer be attending.

C&W announced on Wednesday it was pulling out of Mipim because of concerns about the coronavirus. The agent issued a statement which said: 'The health and safety of our employees and our clients is our priority. With the rapidly increasing number of cases of coronavirus in Europe and the elevated industry-wide concern around attendance at large multi-national events, we have decided to withdraw from Mipim.'

This week the firm temporarily closed its Milan office and told all its employees in Milan to work from home.

Northern Italy has seen the largest concentration of cases of the virus in Europe so far, with 500 cases confirmed by 27 February. But the virus continues to spread across Europe, with new European countries reporting cases every day.

Frances faces 'epidemic'
French president Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that France was preparing for a spike in the number of coronavirus cases, adding 'we are going to have to deal with it as best we can'.

'We are facing a crisis, an epidemic, that is coming,' he said, while visiting a hospital in Paris where the first French national with coronavirus died on Tuesday. 'We're only at the beginning.'

France has 18 confirmed cases, with two deaths including a Chinese tourist who was visiting. According to the BBC, some public events have already been cancelled, including the last day of a major carnival in Nice on Saturday.


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