Investor presence adds weight to conference bubble

MIPIM’s reputation in some quarters as a champagne-fuelled jolly in the sunshine had subsided in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, for obvious reasons.

After a record 29,318 attendance in 2008, 2009 was the year delegate numbers fell off a cliff and the event remained a more sober affair in the following two years.

Recent efforts by the organisers to attract more investors – apparently there were 4,500 this time and a special RE-Invest Summit organised for them – “means it has become more credible”, says Anne Kavanagh, global head of transactions and asset management at AXA Real Estate. “Investors were one of the things missing in the past.”

A Dutch fund manager who advises one of the largest corporate pension funds in the Netherlands did say that MIPIM still has a poor image where he works and was not considered value for money. He was, however, nevertheless there…

As a test of the real conditions on the ground it is wise to bear in mind that the official part of the show still operates in a bubble. This year, word went out from Reed Midem that questions about the Ukraine to Russian delegates wouldn’t be welcome – after all, Russia was one of the event’s countries of honour, with a model of Moscow bigger than the one at the London stand, once the mother of all models.

As you’d expect, the official MIPIM news daily magazine covered the press releases and stand-agreement-signings of Russian and Ukraine developments with a completely straight bat.

More surprising was the smattering of agents’ releases – such as an excitable one from JLL about Russia’s retail pipeline – that gave no indication that it was anything other than business as usual there.