In little over two weeks’ time, one of PERE’s editors will have ditched his suit in favour of slacks and an open-neck shirt. The relaxed executive look will be topped off by the all-important shades.
At this time of year, the apparel change can only mean one thing of course: that the journalist in question is at the annual property glut fest in the South of France called MIPIM.
It is difficult to describe the event to the average American property professional. Is it a bit like ULI, GRI, or PREA? Nope. With 26,000 descending on the jamboree last year, it is like all of those aforementioned events combined on steroids.
Set as it is in glamorous Cannes, MIPIM is defined as much by the ritzy backdrop as by what happens inside the auditoriums and the 26,580 square meter exhibition space.
Just about every place capable of hire is high-jacked for the week by deal-hungry firms and their advisors. Semi-formal meetings, lunches, drinks receptions and cocktail parties abound at the hotels, restaurants, hillside villas and the luxury yachts (if you are lucky enough to be invited). If you are like Blackstone, you will probably hire out a large suite in one of the top hotels on La Croisette.
Last year, the story seemed to be “Russia”, or more accurately, projects in need of funding in places you have never heard of such as the Kalashnikov. Yes, you read that right. The Kalashnikov is a tower shaped like the iconic assault rifle built on a man-made island called Izhevsk in the Ural mountain range.
Judging by the invites that have been rolling into PERE’s offices, Russia will feature heavily again this year. Developer Russia Land, for example, is showcasing “Russia Tower”, a 600 metre high skyscraper in Moscow that is destined to become Europe’s highest, according to MIPIM organisers.
The Middle East will be in focus too. The appropriately-named Global Developer Limitless, a subsidiary of deep-pocketed Dubai World, will show off Arabian Canal – a 75-km long project along a man-made canal in the United Arab Emirates.
There is a place for the less exotic too: Hull in the north of England will be promoting itself for instance. And Germany will be heavily represented also. For the first-time, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology is hiring a stand to host a dozen German companies. Now that the G-Reit has been introduced, Germans could be thicker on the ground than ever.
But what of the private equity firms? There was plenty to whet the appetite last year. As well as the row of yachts in the marina (count them: Apollo Real Estate, RREEF, Morgan Stanley, Orion…) there were some serious parties to attend. This year won’t be any different. MGPA is once again hiring a section of beach at the Carlton Hotel for a champagne brunch reception, Curzon Global Partners is hosting a private dinner at a restaurant near the Majestic, and W.P. Carey is throwing a bash at a villa in the hills.
There will be plenty to celebrate. According to PERE’s own data, at least $3.3 billion of equity has been raised by Europe-focused vehicles since the start of the year. That is just counting those funds that have closed. There is a lot more currently being raised and invested.
With this in mind, MIPIM is happening at a time when there is plenty to do. There is every reason to party hard and to work even harder. Santé!
PS: If you want to meet our Europe editor at the MIPIM property show, March 11-14, email firstname.lastname@example.org.