Editor’s letter: MIPIM passes the test as appetite remains strong

Andy Thomson
Andy Thomson

The hunt for a reasonably priced beverage at the annual MIPIM real estate jamboree in Cannes often ends at the Caffe Roma, the well-known watering hole within easy walking (or staggering) distance of the Palais des Festivals, the Promenade de la Croisette and a row of upmarket hotels stretching from the Majestic to the Martinez along the seafront.

Indeed, there is a kind of ‘Caffe Roma test’ in relation to the health of Europe’s property market. For one thing, you can head there on the Monday night – prior to the three main days of the event – and get an early taste of both the beer and current market sentiment (known to regular attendees as the ‘Mood of MIPIM’). Another aspect of the test is simply to observe the numbers gathered there: a crowded Caffe Roma normally gives a strong hint as to the popularity of MIPIM itself.

This year, on a pleasant, if breezy pre-event evening, those huddled on the pavement outside the venue found themselves jostling for space and occasionally nudged perilously close to the passing traffic. Sure enough, the mood was bullish – reflected in a MIPIM attendance of comfortably over 20,000, comparable to the heady pre-Crisis years.

You will find our analysis of MIPIM in this month’s issue, and therein discover a sense that there are enough concerns on the downside for market conditions to be considered less than optimal. The other side of the coin is that things could be an awful lot worse – and that, in relation to other parts of the financing universe, real estate continues to look well placed.

‘Well placed’ is also what Laxfield Capital considers itself to be. The firm has built its business on the back of increasing appetite for European exposure from firms outside the region together with increasingly diverse sources of available financing. As well as acting as the ‘middle man’ between the finance demand and supply sides, Laxfield has added a number of new strings to its bow in recent times.

This month’s special report examines the state of Europe’s debt capital markets from several different perspectives, including the CMBS market. CMBS was given a shot in the arm by Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s pricing of the first, and so far only, rated European CMBS in 2016. However, no-one is predicting large volumes of CMBS in Europe any time soon.

Also in this issue you will find features on the upsurge in crowdfunding, the state of lending in the agriculture sector, and real estate opportunities arising from the UK’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’.