MIPIM 2019

Mishcon de Reya Partner Susan Freeman has written a daily MIPIM blog for Property Week. The blog offers a unique insight into the event, debates and parties during MIPIM week.


Susan Freeman's MIPIM 2019 Blog

He pointed to exhibitor Egypt, which said it was building 350,000 new affordable homes this year and 300,000 middle-income homes. He suggested that London’s ‘invisible’ mayor should visit Egypt to see how they are achieving this.

He also summed up the view, heard often over the last few days, that ‘London is open for business but the people running London aren’t here’. To be fair, those who were here, including deputy mayor Jules Pipe, have worked tirelessly to promote London.

On a positive note, the Royal Town Planning Institute was here for the first time led by chief executive Victoria Hills, putting planning at the heart of promoting the UK.

The day started with the BPF breakfast panel themed around the challenges and catalysts in city regeneration. An excellent panel chaired by Property Weekeditor Liz Hamson included L&G head of real assets Bill Hughes, who highlighted the challenge of finding constructive partnerships between the public and private sector with both understanding the risks. “Some cities are more constructive. Some are intransigent, and in those cases we walk away,” he said. He also commented that government needs to make local authorities ensure their local plans are more visible so we know where to engage.

Next up was a fascinating City of London Corporation and City Property Association panel  to mark the launch of their ‘London in a changing world’ report. Another excellent line-up included British Land chief executive Chris Grigg, James Young of Cushman & Wakefield, Joe Tasker, David Ainsworth, City Property Association President and WeWork’s David Kaiser, led by the City’s ubiquitous Catherine McGuinness. We were treated to some key stats.

Did you know that 40% of London’s tech workers come from overseas? London is in a war for talent where the quality of workspace really matters. The report is definitely worth a read. Grigg reminded us that the sector is now talking about ‘the customer’ whereas 10 years ago we weren’t interested in what was going on in our buildings. (And when I finished my MBA in 2001 we didn’t even know who the customer was!)

Kaiser talked about the feedback WeWork gets from members (customers). He highlighted the difficulty of attracting and maintaining talent and the importance of upskilling the workforce. WeWork has acquired a coding school and is rolling out coding programmes in some locations. Education will become more important, he said. Absolutely right, especially with the advances of AI. He also said that 50% of the start-ups in WeWork are female, which is an impressive ratio.

From the audience, Henry Taylor a director of RealRec, a specialist real estate sector recruiter, quizzed the panel on the roles they saw becoming more important over the next three to five years. The panel thought that 42% of those roles had not been created yet and warned that real estate would be competing with tech and other non-property companies for the same job skills. Yet more reasons for getting on with upskilling our workforce.

After a quick catch-up with IPSX on the London Stand, it was time for Patricia Brown‘s informal London 3.0 lunch. She had trailed this by saying she was assembling some brilliant minds to discuss what change we needed to plan for in London. I’m not sure how I slipped in but it was good to have Sir Eddie Lister join us as he has such depth of experience in numerous London roles over such a long period. A theme of the discussion was that we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. We have more competition now both from the regions and other global cities so this is the time for a coherent message for London. This sounds like a job for Ms Brown! Thank you to Trowers & Hamlins for hosting.

The afternoon was spent visiting some of the other stands including Manchester, which had a tremendous buzz. This may have been because the inimitable Tom Bloxham of Urban Splash was corralling a panel discussing the exciting new home, the Factory, planned for the Manchester International Festival.

Then it was time for the final-night celebrations, which kicked off with the James Andrew champagne reception, which this year was co-hosted by United Trust Bank. This was the only Mipim party at which smoked salmon was served. The room was absolutely packed, with guests enjoying themselves so much that they showed no sign of leaving at the appointed carriages time.

We then spent the rest of the evening at La Petite Maison, my favourite Cannes restaurant. However, having had my menu choices pre-determined by set menus at the week’s Mipim events, I found it difficult to get back to making my own decisions! I have to say, I can’t think of a better combination of real estate and proptech companions to have dinner with (and play Tom Bloxham’s version of the truth game). Thank you Charlie Green, Savannah de Savary, Aaron Block, Tom Bloxham, Angelica Donati, Dan Hughes and Tyler Goodwin for making the last night of Mipim such fun.

I think I finally managed to bring real estate and proptech together at Mipim. Hopefully next year we can do more to integrate the growing international proptech and innovation agenda with the rest of the exhibitors. I hope you have enjoyed this week’s Mipim blogs. If so please follow me on Twitter @Propertyshe for an ongoing commentary on all things real estate and proptech.

Hughes stressed the need for leadership and collaboration between the public and private sector, a recurring theme of this year’s conference. I’d second that! Gordon gave an interesting statistic in that apparently Manchester has a 54% graduate retention rate and this is partly because of the strong private rented sector. From the audience, Neil Sinclair of Palace Capital stressed the need to educate investors about opportunities in the regions. Winbanks responded to confirm that this was very much the DIT’s story and that it encourages overseas investors to consider the regions. All very encouraging, although the stormy winds on the Croisette served as a reminder of the ongoing Brexit problems back home.

I had to miss two other breakfasts – huge apologies to the hosts – to make it to the London Stand in time for the collaboration-themed panel I was chairing. There were already snaking queues to get through security and into the Palais so it was just as well I had, uncharacteristically, allowed enough time. 

 En route I encountered JLL’s Guy Grainger who was just about to start his proptech session with Mihir Shah, co-chief executive of JLL Spark, which sadly coincided with mine. My panel subject was ‘Shared visions and collaborative delivery’. My panellists were Sadie Morgan, director of dRMM and commissioner of the National Infrastructure Commission; Sean Ellis, executive director, Berkeley Group; Caroline Harper, chief planner, Be First; Lucy Homer, executive general manager, design and technical, Lendlease; Ros Morgan, chief executive, Heart of London Business Alliance; and Amy Hazlehurst, head of customer success, VU.CITY. In the limited time available, they each gave their own personal take on the need for and benefit of collaborative working. They provided some fascinating and very diverse experiences of using collaboration strategically.

I heard part of the next panel on creating vibrant mixed-use communities, which included Liz Peace and Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia and was chaired by Property Week editor Liz Hamson. As I was collecting my paraphernalia to leave, I missed the question but heard Hamson describing a reply given by Peace as a skilful political answer as she didn’t say yes or no! I made a mental note to ask Peace for some pointers on how to achieve this.

Next up was the London First and EcoWorld lunch back at the same room at the Carlton hotel as had hosted my earlier breakfast. As the weather had warmed up, I was finally wearing my extremely bright acid yellow jacket and I am pleased to report that I haven’t been mistaken for a gilet jaune yet! The lunch attracted an impressive gathering of the great and good of the public and private sector. 

EcoWorld UK chief executive Heng Leong Cheong made a great introductory speech outlining their ambition to reach 10,000 UK rental units in the next five years. As Heng commented, at four years old, EcoWorld UK is a relatively young company but with ambitions to grow in significance. 

Deputy mayor Jules Pipe assured us that whatever happens London will remain a leading city. He gave our excellent legal system a shout-out as a contributor to the attractions of London. If it was a separate nation, London would be the eighth-largest economy in Europe, he said. Pipe needs a special mention in dispatches as he has spoken at so many of the London events I have attended over the last few days. 

I particularly enjoyed catching up with EcoWorld’s Marcus Marland and with Bisnow UK editor Mike Phillips (my former editor at Property Week). It was also useful to discuss with Barking & Dagenham leader Rodwell the proposed outputs from the recent London Councils Housing Conference. Look out for some useful practical suggestions about improving process coming up shortly.

My next lunch was the Investec beach party, an annual event that had the most extraordinary sushi, for those of us whohadn’t already eaten lunch! They always seem to be able to guarantee sunshine.

Then I headed back to the Palais for the Women’s cocktail event at which CBRE’s Amanda Clack spoke about her excellent new book on diversity and inclusion in real estate. She was followed by Chantal Clavier of Heidrick & Struggles on women’s empowerment. 

My next stop was the Innovation Centre, which I finally located on the basement floor. Below ground there was a whole other world of proptech events and I saw an excellent, if long, presentation by Enerbrain, an Italian company that has patented a system of dynamic regulation of HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) systems that improves indoor comfort and reduces consumption for air conditioning.

Then it was sequins on for the Property Week editor’s VIP Mipim dinner, which always includes a select gathering of top real estate personalities for an animated roundtable debate. You will read all about it in Property Week – we covered everything from Brexit and leadership to retail, trust, affordable housing and homelessness. Thank you very much to our hosts New West End Company and James Andrew International for a thought-provoking debate. 

So I think I have covered real estate, diversity and proptech during the course of today. It was a terrific real estate evening but, once again, I missed out on a key proptech event – this time the Metaprop NYC boat party. At this rate, all my virtual proptech acquaintances with whom I communicate on Twitter are going to remain virtual! 

I can tell it’s been a successful and event-packed day at Mipim as I’m writing this blog in the early hours of the morning! We have just concluded our Tuesday night Mishcon de Reya client dinner at La Petite Maison, which has become something of a tradition. As always, it is packed with an amazing cross section of real estate personalities who join us to enjoy the ambience and live music. I think that the food, when it arrives, is the best in Cannes.

It’s been a very long day. I started early in the morning on the London Stand, which was packed with delegates and exhibitors. It seemed busier than ever before and the London model seems to get bigger and better each year. I made time to visit Paris and Istanbul, which seemed to be less busy than London, I’m pleased to say. I also had a quick tour of the main Palais exhibition area. You do need a map these days – I thought I would never find my way out. I didn’t manage to find the Innovation Centre.

Next up was an interesting Knowledge Economy panel on the London Stand. Deputy mayor Jules Pipe (who was everywhere yesterday) detailed the impressive number of London knowledge clusters. Katherine McGuiness, flying the flag for the City, made the point that as Londoners we undersell ourselves, quoting Deloitte as rating London as “the number-one city for fintech”. There are 60,000 people employed in the city in that sector alone, she says. Panellist Jo Negrini, chief executive of Croydon council, announced a collaboration with London South Bank University, explaining that the learning economy is at the heart of its regeneration plans.

I then moved on to a fascinating panel on investing in the UK in the UK government pavilion. It was chaired by Mark Slaughter, DIT director-general, investment, and included Avison Young chief executive Mark Rose (soon to move to London with his wife and dogs), Battersea Power Station chief executive Simon Murphy and Grainger chief executive Helen Gordon. All the panellists felt the government could do more to back the property sector and were concerned about the apparent disconnect between the Treasury and other departments. Hopefully the comments will be channelled back to the government.

At this point, the day began to go wrong! I was invited to three lunchtime events that I was very keen to attend, but as I was chairing a panel session at 2pm this presented a logistical problem. I made it to the London Chamber drinks reception, which was a final chance to say farewell to retiring chief executive Colin Stanbridge and to hear from Jules Pipe again. Then I cantered over to the Westminster Property Alliance lunch on the sunny Majestic Hotel terrace. It was very well attended and I would have loved a relaxed lunch in the sun in such illustrious real estate company. Craig McWilliam (new WPA chair and chief executive of Grosvenor GBI) welcomed guests and Ben Rogers from Centre for London talked about their new research ‘London: HQ City’. The report will explore London’s role as the hub for global and European headquarters; how HQ jobs help drive the capital and country’s economy; and how to maintain London’s HQ City role in the future. I look forward to hearing more. Sadly I had to leave before the food was served!

I’m not complaining as I very much enjoyed chairing the proptech panel in the government pavilion. My excellent line-up included Oli Farago, chief executive, Coyote Software; Gabrielle MacMillan, chief executive, Equiem; Sally Jones, head of strategy and investments, British Land; Guy Grainger, EMEA chief executive, JLL; and, joining us from New York, Aaron Block, co-founder and managing director of MetaProp.

It was great to meet Aaron for the first time in real life having often conversed on social media and to be presented with my signed copy of his newly launched book, Proptech 101, which I can’t wait to read.

Catch up on day one of Susan’s Mipim 2019 blog: Construction chaos, high winds and comfortable shoes

They were a terrific panel with a wealth of proptech experience. As well as being the 30th anniversary of Mipim, it’s 30 years since Tim Berners Lee set up the World Wide Web, which opened a whole new world of connection. There is no shortage of tech-driven disruption in real estate. Everywhere you look the sector is affected, whether it’s how property is built, how it’s managed and the relationship with our customers. The panel gave us a great opportunity to discuss the impact of all this disruption, and how as a sector we are responding to and embracing the challenges. Aaron remarked on how the UK is one of the great global hubs and is way ahead in terms of enthusiasm for proptech. MacMillan felt that the UK was a good place to do business and that deals get signed up quicker here. There was a suggestion that Europe should be more joined-up in its approach to tech so as to compete better with the US and Asia.

Aaron had to leave the stage promptly to sprint over to his next proptech event on the other side of the Palais. I joined him there subsequently and was delighted to meet some of my other virtual social media pals in the world of proptech – Adam Balsam and Angelica Donati to name just two.

Proptech panel chaired by Susan Freeman, at Mipim

Then back to the London Stand opening party and then the City drinks reception, which left just minutes left to change to go to the FTI drinks reception, which was already in full swing. Access was circuitous as the Croisette was closed off for the opening party at the Carlton. Then it was on to our dinner with which I started this piece. I still hadn’t had lunch by this time and it was approaching 9pm.

I have already identified a structural problem with my Mipim itinerary. Keeping up with the real estate circuit, as well as getting to the proptech-focused events and social gatherings, is proving quite a challenge. The upside is that I haven’t had a moment to consider the implications of the unravelling Brexit saga.

Has anyone else noticed there is something strange going on with the Cannes beach restaurants? Mystified by the profusion of building construction permits outside the familiar beachside haunts, I did a little research and came across a Hollywood Reporter piece last summer headlined ‘Cannes Construction Leads to Chaos on the Croisette’ about the possible impact on the annual Cannes film festival.

It seems the mayor of Cannes’ ambitious plans to transform the town into a high-end tourist destination are disrupting local business. Many of the beach restaurants we have come to rely on over 30 years of Mipim have either disappeared or are being reconstructed as more upmarket operations in an effort to upgrade Cannes to compete with other international playgrounds for the rich. It remains to be seen how this gentrification will affect Mipim-goers who are already bridling at rocketing hotel and restaurant prices.

Notwithstanding the construction programme, we managed to find a restaurant that was open and my regular first-day Mipim beach lunch with Liz Peace and Pat Brown took place very much as usual. That was despite the gale-force winds that dashed glasses and other untethered items to the ground and meant that sun umbrellas couldn’t be used as they would have been blown over. It turns out that we were the lucky ones as stories began to unfold of extreme turbulence, delays and aborted landings as flights struggled to land in Nice in the unusually high winds. 

Popping into the Mipim News office for a pre-event interview was an interesting experience. The day before Mipim is due to start, the Palais is a hive of frenetic activity with stands still being constructed. It never looks as if the exhibition will be ready by the next day but, barring storms that did away with Manchester’s beachside stand last year, it will no doubt be ready for action.

It’s great to see so many of our UK cities out in force flying the flag and with London, Scotland, the West Midlands and the UK government lined up (alongside Egypt) each with their own branded pavilions. I took a peek around the London Stand and it has been reconfigured this year with an enclosed stage area. Also I think I noticed proper steps giving access to the stand for the first time – a great improvement on the rickety affair on which I have always wrecked my heels. On the subject of heels, I am following Tom Bloxham’s Mipim tip to dress informally and while it won’t be sandals for me, it may well be trainers. Watching the kids travelling up the Croisette at speed in their wheeled trainers with flashing lights, I wonder: don’t they make them for adults?

A useful first day at Mipim was concluded by our traditional Monday night dinner gathering at Le Maschou in the old quarter hosted by Harvey Soning of James Andrew International and Jace Tyrrell of New West End Company. There was loads of lively conversation around our plans and aspirations for Mipim 2019, great food and company. The 30th anniversary of the event promises to be a vintage year, once the wind calms down. I’m looking forward to the madness beginning tomorrow as I attempt to get to numerous simultaneous events while also chairing a proptech panel in the UK government pavilion. Bring on the wheeled trainers!


Susan's Previous MIPIM Blogs

MIPIM 2018

We woke on Thursday morning to the sound of torrential rain and the wind whistling menacingly through the windows. As we Mipim veterans know, this is bad for those hosting beach and boat parties but a boon for the conference organisers as everyone huddles into the Palais with no great incentive to leave.

Thankfully my breakfast meeting with JLL’s Guy Grainger was at the Carlton and he had very resourcefully nabbed a table in the bar before the long queue for the restaurant had formed. Nobody wanted to give up their tables as they were not at all keen to venture outside.

The continental European men were instantly recognisable by their double-knotted scarves. The Brits clearly hadn’t received that memo! Umbrellas were in short supply but I had the foresight to commandeer mine from the hotel the night before. It was just as well as even the relatively short walk to my lunch venue left me soaked and windswept. Not a good look.

Our build-to-rent lunch at the award-winning Martinez Palme D’Or restaurant hosted by the London Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Cast, Turley, Get Living London and Interserve was a great success. Although we couldn’t use the sun terrace for fear of drowning, we were treated to a fantastic lunch. We heard from Darren Rodwell, the ebullient leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, and “the bureaucrats”, as he put it, from Manchester and Birmingham.

Rodwell told us about the work Be First, Barking’s new development company is doing and vowed to build 60,000 homes in 25 years and to stop gentrification. The problem, he said, is “making money on the back of vulnerable people” and he doesn’t want to see our principles “destroyed by greed”. A developer in the audience took great umbrage at the suggestion that developers were greedy, which led to a lively exchange, but they seemed to subsequently resolve their differences. Talking to Rodwell after the debate, he referred to the London commuter belt as being shaped like an octopus rather than a doughnut! That’s something I hadn’t considered before!

Focal point

I began to feel I was stalking Rodwell as he was speaking on the next London and Manchester panel on on the London stand. I came in just in time to hear him say that Brexit is a waste of time and money. Manchester leader Sir Richard Leese said that cities need to be part of the Brexit discussion, which seems fair enough. It was good to have time to catch up with some familiar faces on the London stand. Paul Finch, editor of the Architectural Review and Architects’ Journal, ran his wrap-up at the earlier time of 4pm to accommodate the panel. We even had a few interesting minutes to talk real estate history, on the subject of the legendary Harry Hyams, his architect John Seiffert and the building of London’s Centre Point.

The London stand excelled itself this Mipim and was a real focal point, although it has to be said that the wifi was not its strongest point. Maybe capacity was affected by the sheer number of delegates but, with the increasing focus on tech, this is something we have to sort out before next Mipim.

The highlight of Thursday evening at Mipim is always the James Andrew International party, this year without co-host Coutts. Invitations to this event are always highly sought after but I have never seen the room so busy with the top real estate dealmakers. And I hadn’t appreciated before that the smoked salmon served throughout the evening had apparently travelled with me from London. It’s probably best not to know! It was great to meet some of property’s new generation such as Freddie McAlpine, scion of the McAlpine family who is working with James Andrew. In his spare time he is a talented metal sculptor. I was very impressed.

Then it was dinner at Petite Maison where, over the excellent but loud live music, I chatted to TV architect George Clarke who has recently invested in Tom Bloxham’s Urban Splash. He told me about his Ministry of Building Innovation, which is working generationally to promote the teaching of construction industry skills in the regions. It sounds an amazing initiative and he is clearly passionate about this initiative. Apologies to Tom Bloxham, a Mipim co-conspirator of too many years to remember, for having to bail out on the after-dinner bar trail he organised for our party! I really enjoyed the truth game for our table. A remarkable way to get to know your fellow diners.

Invest in Great Britain

It was, despite the antisocial weather, a great day and a particularly good Mipim. Landsec chief executive Rob Noel remarked at the London Chamber lunch that it was his first visit to Mipim since 2002. He was there this year in his BPF capacity and he was impressed by the way it had grown, the number of countries now represented and the conference programme. A number of senior British property representatives have mentioned the benefit of being to meet with European counterparts all in one place.

And certainly the government presence lends weight to the ‘invest in Great Britain’ message. The excellent Department for International Trade pavilion has really come into its own this year with a full on programme of events co-hosted with the BPF. At times it has been difficult to divide myself between the panels on the London stand and the government stand and there has definitely been no time for the Palais conference programme.

No doubt there will be articles in the press talking down Mipim but that shouldn’t detract from what has been for most of us a fantastic business event. Many deals have been done and there has been much useful exchange particularly between the many representatives of central and local government and the private sector. As one of my favourite Twitter combatants Ellandi’s Mark Robinson and I agreed on over dinner last night, it is the random encounters at Mipim that make it so very worthwhile.

To read this article on Property Week, please click here.

It was another bright but early start for the BPF Investors Breakfast, which always draws a great crowd. This year, in a new departure, instead of one speaker there was a panel that included Landsec chief executive Rob Noel, GVA’s Gerry Hughes and Homes England’s Louise Wyman.

It was another bright but early start for the BPF Investors Breakfast, which always draws a great crowd. This year, in a new departure, instead of one speaker there was a panel that included Landsec chief executive Rob Noel, GVA’s Gerry Hughes and Homes England’s Louise Wyman. The discussion was around the important topic of what makes for a successful public/private sector partnership.

Noel reckons that “a common goal and trust” are essential. Other prerequisites were clarity of objective, an ability to flex and change and, of course, political stability. Hughes said that clients were concerned about the current political uncertainty as it affects long-term arrangements. This is an issue that is coming up at many Mipim debates this year.

Strong leadership was also cited as an essential and reference was made to Sir Howard Bernstein and what he achieved for Manchester. Palace Capital’s Neil Sinclair asked from the floor how the public and private sectors would be able to work together if John McDonnell became chancellor. The panel dealt with this well and felt that the private sector would find a way. Veteran real estate investor Sinclair, who experienced London in the 1970s, did not look convinced.

Housing crisis focus

I then hoofed it down a very busy Croisette to a heaving London stand where ebullient London Chamber president Tony Pidgley of Berkeley Homes was speaking to a wrapt audience. On a similar theme to the BPF panel, he said public/private sector collaboration was key to solving the housing crisis.

Fortunately nobody asked the John McDonnell question! “Why does it take so long to sign a s106 agreement?” he asked rhetorically. “Let’s get the government to recognise there is a housing crisis,” he said, “and let’s get on with Crossrail 2 so we can provide homes.”

On the question of skills shortage, Pidgley told the audience that 60% of his labour force is from Europe. His company Berkeley is trying to help address the skills shortage with apprenticeships and skill academies. It has invested in a factory and is now building modular with units coming out ready carpeted. On the subject of small housebuilders, Pidgley said when he started he used to have 40 competitors and now there are only two! He expressed surprise when an audience member said the recent Letwin report blamed the housebuilders rather than the planning system for restricting housing supply. No doubt we will hear more about this.

Putting Wembley on the map

The next panel featured the inspirational double act of Barking & Dagenham council leader Darren Rodwell and his chief executive Chris Naylor. The GLA’s David Lunts jokingly pointed out that Barking & Dagenham was a bigger crowd-puller than Tony Pidgley! It was their marriage of “vision, commitment and passion” that attracted people. Rodwell said it was ridiculous that he was the most senior London politician at Mipim.

Naylor really nailed it talking about the problem of the perception of the development sector, which needs to be seen as part of the solution to the housing crisis. He made it clear that Barking only wants to deal with developers who see affordable housing as a long-term investment. If the private sector doesn’t see itself as the solution to providing council housing then it should say so, he said.

This session was followed by an excellent build-to-rent panel chaired by Alex Notay of Places for People, which discussed the growing UK sector. I had to leave but heard Apache’s Richard Jackson saying we needed to learn from the standards of service provided in the US. It will be interesting to see how far the UK model follows the US in terms of amenities.

After absorbing all this content in quick succession, lunch beckoned at the Investec beach party on the Croissette. I have observed a new trend this Mipim in that a number of guests have only flown in for the day. A number told me they had come to Cannes solely to attend Investec’s party. This is a testament to the hosts who lay on quite a spread featuring excellent sushi and champagne. It was so enjoyable chatting beachside that I have to admit to missing a few DIT panels on strategic housing growth and design that I had intended to go to.

Quintain had a drinks reception on its impressive new London stand celebrating Wembley’s inclusion in the Pipers London model, which really puts Wembley Park on the map.

Then it was my panel on ‘London is open: diversity as a mindset’. My excellent fellow panellists were New West Company’s Jace Tyrrell, Emma Cariaga from British Land and Killian Hurley from Mount Anvil. We had a far-reaching debate and I got to discuss one of my favourite topics: the dangers of ‘comfortable clone syndrome’.

I was proud to be able to say that 57% of our real estate lawyers at Mishcon de Reya are women and that we were the first London law firm to have a non-solicitor chairman. We covered some wide-ranging issues including how to attract people with different backgrounds and skills into real estate to make a difference.

To everyone’s surprise, the Inaugural Homes England reception on the DIT stand had people queuing outside, which shows the regard for the new Homes England team and bodes well for the excellent work they are doing .

Dinner delight

Finally the long-awaited Property Week editor’s dinner. Now in its third year, this event, chaired by Liz Hamson, is sponsored by James Andrew International and New West End Company. It attracts a top-rate crowd drawn from all aspects of real estate who are expected to sing meaningfully for their supper.

This year guests included Manchester’s Tom Bloxham and TV architect George Clarke, who has just invested in Urban Splash. We covered a huge amount of ground and I won’t detract from the forthcoming Property Week feature, other than to say the ‘trust’ word and benign dictatorships were discussed quite a lot!

The real strength of Mipim is the random encounters. I was delighted to connect with proptech expert Eddie Holmes who I know well virtually. He is much taller in real life than he looks on Twitter!

Sadly there was no Tristan party this year but hopefully it will be back next year. Having said that, the music was still pounding at another beach party until 1:30 in the morning!

To read this article on Property Week, please click here.

Although it’s still very breezy, the sun is shining as the Department for International Trade (DIT) opens its content packed MIPIM programme with the British Property Federation.

There was even a long queue to enter the conference as overzealous security guards wouldn’t let us in a minute before 9am.

The first panel was an impressive line-up of metro mayors including ex-John Lewis chief executive Andy Street, now the mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority. He talked about the de-industrialisation of brownfield land to bring life back to communities. All the metro mayors hinted intriguingly of announcements to come.

Clearly although there is healthy competition between them, they are all aligned in doing the best for their communities. The diversity issue was touched upon with Street pointing out to London First chair Jasmine Whitbread that she had to be there for him to be able to appear on the panel, presumably because he can’t sit on single-sex panels.

It was good to catch up on the London stand with TfL commercial director Graeme Craig, who tells me he now runs a 70-strong development team working on 50 schemes. Its extensive programme includes 3,000-plus homes this year and it will be moving into PRS in a big way, and also modular construction.

The sun is shining in Cannes but there is lots going on inside the pavilion

At Morden, he tells me, it is working with the council on the town centre, which is intended to be a model for other town centre rollouts. It will also be creating something transformational in its mobile coverage. With the impending opening of the Elizabeth line, TfL is seeking six sector-exclusive corporate sponsors to be long-term partners helping promote the new line. The entrance fee for each sponsor will be £6.5m.

’Inadequate investment in R&D’

I enjoyed the next DIT panel on innovation chaired by JLL’s Guy Grainger, who has definitely missed his vocation on the stage. I was particularly impressed by the energy of new Lendlease head of offices Sherin Aminossehe, who was parachuted on to the panel straight from the airport. In just a few hours at Mipim she apparently spoke on two panels and did one vox pop, one pod cast, three catch-ups and two business meetings. She was back in London by 6pm. Is this some sort of record? The panel touched on the government’s inadequate investment in R&D. Construction is a massive part of our GDP, they said, and yet there is minimal investment in research. The need for new methods of construction and shortage of constructions skills were discussed and Aminossehe even challenged Crest Nicholson’s Steve Stone in the audience to lead the way on building quality.

Panellist Mark Reynolds of Mace said “shame on industry for not collaborating more”. There is innovation, he said, but people are not sharing ideas.

It was a quick sprint, avoiding the public realm roadworks that seem to be everywhere in Cannes this year, to the London Chamber drinks reception where president Tony Pidgley once again welcomed deputy mayor for planning Jules Pipe for their rousing annual Mipim double act. It was a great London turnout with the top echelons of many London developers and Pipe also touched on skills as a huge issue for the construction industry. It got me thinking of who made up the Cannes construction workforce!

Then another sprint down to the Majestic through further street works to the Westminster Property Alliance lunch with Sheffield Property Association. This lunch has now become a regular Mipim fixture, although with the local elections looming, Westminster Council was notable by its absence this year.

Another canter down the Croisette to the beach drinks reception hosted by resi developer Moda, which was in full swing when I arrived. It was useful to catch up with hosts Tony and Oscar Brooks. They told me they are focusing on build-to-rent development and aim to design, build and operate their schemes. They are able to take a long-term 30-year view. Their recent tie-up with Uber indicates that they are prepared to take an innovative approach. They were celebrating having just got planning consent for their Glasgow scheme.

Women’s networking

It was then back to the Palais to represent Women Talk Real Estate at a women’s networking reception sponsored by Ivanhoe Cambridge. This was open to the many nationalities attending Mipim, although the Brits and the French seemed the largest contingents. One or two men were in attendance, including The Guardian’s wealth correspondent! On the way back, the most important event was the purchase of a coat to combat the chilly night-time weather.

We had to pick our way through the glitzy Mipim opening night party at the Carlton to reach the FTI drinks party at its new plage-side venue. Hosted by former Property Week editor Giles Barrie, it was well very well attended as always and a good opportunity to catch up with the real estate world’s glitterati. Then it was on to the Mishcon de Reya Tuesday night client dinner at the Petite Maison where a last-minute table switch meant a quick reinvention of the table plan. All worked seamlessly and conversation flowed well into the early hours against the backdrop of a great live band.

A perfect end to a long day and nearly time to get going for an early breakfast.

To read this article on Property Week, please click here.

MIPIM 2017

It's still all about collaboration (the famous C word) and we are delighted to be launching The Collaborators initiative for 2017 with EG. See The Collaborators magazine 2016 and read all about this exciting initiative that rewards and promotes collaboration in the built environment.

It was another early start this morning. This time for the Movers & Shakers/JLL UK Cities Breakfast. I have to say that the short stroll along the Croisette to the JLL beachside pavilion certainly trumped my normal dawn racing drive through London's Mayfair to reach the usual Dorchester breakfast venue. The panel was on top form, extolling the virtues of Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and beyond. Central's Patricia Brown referring to our cities' individual DNAs asked the panel to describe the personality of each of their cities. The best answer was from Eamonn Boylan, the recently anointed CEO of Greater Manchester, who described Manchester as 'a place of balls, brains and global firsts'! He was of course quoting from a local poet. He acknowledged that this description was 'a bit macho'. In a clever retort, the GLA's Executive Director Housing and Land, David Lunts described London as 'outgoing, curious and...gender neutral'!

UK Cities Breakfast Panel

Boylan talked about the all-important collaboration between the UK's local regional cities being better than ever. But, he warned that we need to maintain an international perspective as our cities are competing with the likes of Barcelona, Paris and Berlin. Birmingham City's leader, Cllr John Clancy acknowledged the backing the government was giving to attract investment to UK cities but the next step, he said, is finding financial models that work. JLL's Katie Kopec acknowledged that the OJEU process to acquire public land puts people off. Central government needs to make it easier.  

Then back onto the Croisette to the London Stand in time for the Northbank BID brunch. With Deputy Leader Cllr Robert Davis in attendance, CapCo's Andy Hicks spoke about Covent Garden's role in this important collaboration between Westminster and local landlords and businesses. Chatting to Ruth Duston, CEO of the Northbank BID later, she talked about the new energy around this cultural quarter as the BID is facilitating redevelopment and redesign of the area. 'Collaboration is key' she said, without any prompting from me!

Minister for Housing and London, Gavin Barwell MP was speaking in the UK Government pavilion but he was due to be guest speaker at my next event so I moved swiftly on. The London Chamber of Commerce, build to rent developer Essential Living and Cast Consultancy laid on a spectacular build to rent lunch at the famous Palme D'Or restaurant at the Martinez Hotel with the Minister as guest of honour. This was one of many fixtures in his packed MIPIM agenda.

Unusually, guests were lined up for professional photos on the way in to the lunch. I initially thought these were our hosts, until fellow guests quickly explained that we were in the presence of some revered ex professional rugby players!  In an amusing interlude, Harry Downes, of build to rent developers Fizzy, showered me in fizzy bubbly whilst attempting to get out a Fizzy business card while holding a glass of champagne. All in a good cause though!

Over lunch, I had a chance to catch up with Jason Sibthorpe on his exciting new career with Canadian based Avison Young, which describes itself as the world's fastest-growing commercial real estate services company. I predict you will be hearing a lot more about them in the UK. I hope to have the opportunity to meet the company's founder, Mark Rose, who - as Jason explains it -started the company because he wanted to create an antidote to the big corporate approach. Watch that space.

Our guest of honour, Minister Gavin Barwell MP, did a very speedy canter through the recent white paper with a particular focus on those aspects affecting build to rent. He flagged the fact that he wants more institutional investors to back build to rent. He acknowledged that the housing crisis is most acute in London and spoke of his building a good relationship with the London mayor and, importantly, the deputy mayor for housing, James Murray. This is clearly a very useful and necessary cross party collaboration. There were name checks in his speech for Cast Consultancy, with the Minister expressing his gratitude to Cast's Mark Farmer for the role he has played in trying to modernise the construction sector. He also remarked that he was interested in Liz Peace's CIL review and its suggestion that the government set a national tariff rate that is collected locally although he stressed that they haven't yet decided what to do. Hopefully there will be a decision coming up soon as I'm told that the report has been in since the autumn.

As Essential's Darryl Flay joked in his closing speech, his friend and guest, retired rugby star Victor Ubogu had managed to source the most expensive restaurant in Cannes. Perhaps it was as the standard of food and service was superb and was very much appreciated by the great and good of the world of real estate who clearly enjoyed this special event. On a serious note, Flay talked of the many opportunities for local authorities and the public sector to collaborate and predicted that the build to rent sector will end up larger than the commercial property sector. I had delayed my flight back to London so as not to miss this event and I'm delighted that I did.

London Chamber

I was obliged to cut short my MIPIM trip this year so I can get to a family wedding in Miami on Friday morning. Sadly, this means that I am missing the James Andrew International/Coutts & Co Thursday night reception, a great co-hosting collaboration and one of my favourite MIPIM events that, as a rule, I never miss. The good news is that I'm not missing Tom Bloxham's legendary Friday BBQ, as it's apparently not happening this year (or that's what I was told!) I'd like to think it's because I'm leaving Cannes early, but of course it's not!

So thank you to all the clients, contacts co-collaborators and friends new and old who have helped to make this a very special and productive MIPIM. And a particular mention to those at the Department for International Trade who were responsible for bringing the UK Government presence and support to MIPIM. It was widely remarked upon and a great fillip for the British contingent at MIPIM to have the government there helping to promote inward investment. Another Great British collaboration!

Invest in Great Britain

This morning started early with the excellent British Property Federation and GVA International Investors breakfast. It was a pleasure to catch up with Mount Anvil's Killian Hurley on issues such as tackling the skills shortage and public/private sector collaboration. In his keynote speech, Paul Brundage of Oxford Properties gave us a timely reminder that uncertainty creates opportunities and that international investors are still bullish about the UK. We were also reminded that at the same event last year an audience poll expected us to vote against Brexit! It shows how wrong you can be.

Then I hot footed it down to the London Stand for a succession of high quality and thought provok-ing panels. They were so interesting that I remained firmly in my seat until lunchtime, which wasn't my original intention.

First on was Tony Pidgley's Q&A with Peter Murray on building for the mega city. Mr Pidgley was in fine form. He called for a review of the greenbelt. I hope the government representatives down here at MIPIM were listening. He also put forward the case for fiscal devolution to the London Mayor.

Then there followed a rousing panel representing east London, investing in the east. As at yester-day's panel you can't fail to be impressed by the enthusiasm of Barking & Dagenham Leader Dar-ren Rodwell. He was joined by Newham leader Sir Robin Wales and Deputy London Mayor Jules Pipe. To much applause, they outlined the success of east London including of course the legacy of the Olympics at Stratford. Post Brexit 'the working classes will get on with it' said Rodwell. 'East London will be leading the way!'

Then a panel posing the question, 'What is the value of placemaking'? This panel included Martin Jepson of Brookfield, Lucy Musgrave of Publica and David Twohig of Battersea Power Station. Lucy Musgrave spoke eloquently of the need for public spaces to be elegant and beautiful when quiet. The authenticity point is critical, she said. Interestingly, architect Matthias Hollwich said the test of a successful place is whether people talk to each other in the lift. The panel discussed a better term for placemaking which Musgrave says has become jargon. She suggested 'civic urbanism'. Any other thoughts?

Next was a panel on unlocking value through transport investment. New West End Company Chairman Sir Peter Rogers contended that the London Mayor Sadiq Khan's first term will be judged on whether he has fulfilled promises on pollution, pedestrianisation and health.

The morning's final panel on the London Stand was on modular housing. It was good to welcome Manchester's Tom Bloxham to the London Stand. Maybe the new proximity of the Manchester Stand to the London Stand facilitated his journey! Sir Eddie Lister pointed out 'we are still at the foothills of modular'. He said we need to push modular with the funds so that they invest. He also made the point that good quality is important.

Investec have certainly chosen the right year to reinstate their client beach party which for many years was a mainstay of the MIPIM scene. Today the weather was perfect although there is still talk of last year's unseasonably wet Wednesday when we were huddled together to keep out of the cold wind and dripping rain. Cannes is not designed for wet weather!

Savills annual MIPIM lunch on the beach, featuring the great and good of residential real estate also benefited from the sunny weather. So much so that, having learnt from experience, I was handing out sunscreen.

The Property Week Editor's dinner now into its second year was a great success. Sponsored by James Andrew International and New West End Company and chaired by Editor Liz Hamson the dinner brought together the brightest and best in real estate. We managed to achieve a great mix of views and sectors. I will leave Property Week to tell you what we discussed round the table!

My night finished at the wildly wonderful Tristan After Dark party. They once again pulled out all the stops to create the most amazing glittering party on the beach. I think the glitter will be with me for weeks to come!

It's all about collaboration at MIPIM this year. The 'C' word as EG Editor's Damian Wild puts it. From the panels on the London stand and in the British Government pavilion to the lunches and other events. It's particularly encouraging as we have just launched the third year of our Collaborators initiative with EG. The Collaborators rewards those, particularly in the public and private sector, who come together to collaborate in order to improve the built environment.

In the Palais the Barking and Dagenham panel, featuring Lord Bob Kerslake, David Lunts and council leader Darren Rodwell, positively fizzed with enthusiasm for their new regeneration company Be First. Owned by the council, the company will work with private sector developers to share in the gains of housing development to create great places for the borough. 'The South of France is OK' said Rodwell 'but I prefer Southend'. I know what he means.

Next up was a placemaking panel including Deputy Leader of Westminster Cllr Robert Davis who is in charge of placemaking for Westminster. They are working with the London Mayor to facilitate many improvements to areas including Victoria, Oxford St and Bond St. Davis stressed the importance of having a vision and leading in order to change places for the better. New West End Company CEO Jace Tyrrell asked the audience who had heard of BIDs. Gratifyingly 50% of the audience said they had. BIDs are the ultimate public/private sector collaboration as they bring local authority and private sector together with key stakeholders such as Transport for London to bring local projects to life.

Then a quick walk across the packed Croisette for the London Chamber annual MIPIM reception accessed this year with a special gold card. With a full capacity audience, deputy mayor Jules Pipe spoke alongside Berkeley Homes Chairman Tony Pidgley. A terrific public/ private sector speaking collaboration! Both spoke enthusiastically about supporting fiscal devolution for London and the importance of development near transport hubs.

On to Westminster Property Association/ New West End Company annual MIPIM lunch on the terrace of the Majestic Hotel. There were rousing speeches from The Crown Estate's James Cooksey, Westminster's Cllr Robert Davis, Deputy Mayor Jules Pipe and public realm expert Lucy Cosgrave. Again the theme was placemaking and good design. The emphasis was on public and private sector working together to improve their area. And Westminster do this in spades. Jules Pipe praised the work Westminster has done and declared that the GLA wants to help town halls get back their passion for the built environment. 'Westminster heritage has been preserved under the careful hand of Robert', he said. He also recognised the civic quality of Westminster's public realm. Lucy Cosgrave spoke of the collaboration between Westminster, TfL and private developers to create civic transformation around Crossrail. She said that other cities were taking note and that private sector had helped deliver. 'It is a golden moment in civic leadership. We should deliver with flair and ambition' she said.

Since the talk of MIPIM has been the huge presence of the British Government at MIPIM, I was really excited to be on a public/private sector panel in the Government pavilion. Chaired by EG Editor Damian Wild, the panel included Argent's David Partridge, Paul Clark from Capita, Ed Casal and Renos Booth from Aviva, Lyn Garner, Haringey Regeneration director and Gordon More from HCA. With further discussion of the important 'C' word, I was able to talk about our Collaborators initiative with EG, just launching for its third year and why it came about.

The remainder of the early evening was spent at drinks receptions courtesy of Lloyds Bank and FTI and then on to our Tuesday night MIPIM dinner at La Petite Maison. Once again we managed to assemble some of the most interesting real estate entrepreneurs in UK and Hong Kong and the conversation flowed as freely as the wine and delicious food accompanied by the Gypsy Kings or similar.

The organisers pulled out all the stops for this year's MIPIM opening party. The Croisette was closed, there were rows of vintage cars outside the Carlton Hotel and early Beatles numbers on a content loop. I assume it must have been a 60s theme although I can't explain the people dressed for a Mad Hatters Tea Party! May be it was a Purim thing... (a Jewish festival celebrated by some serious dressing up).

The good thing about arriving early is getting the chance to have a look around before MIPIM opens on Tuesday morning and the mad scramble begins to get to all your meetings, events and speaking engagements on time.

At dinner last night with agent extraordinaire Harvey Soning and New West End Company (NWEC) Chief Executive Jace Tyrrell, we were able to discuss all things West End related and to plan strategy for some of our combined events this week.

The Department for International Trade have done a tremendous job of promoting their Invest in Great Britain campaign on every moving and non-moving surface in Cannes. See below pics of their huge banner above the Palais de Festivals, the nerve centre of MIPIM, and on the MIPIM courtesy cars. In a MIPIM first, they have their own Government pavilion and will be flying out Ministers and senior officials who will be speaking at a series of debates. I'm honoured to have been included in tomorrow afternoon's panel on 'Public Private Partnerships: The Future is Innovative,' when I hope to be able to talk about our Collaborators initiative with Estates Gazette which has just launched for its third year.

Lunch today was with another of my co-collaborators, Pat Brown. Pat reminded me that it's 17 years since the New York study trip she organised to investigate Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and to see if the New York model would work in London. Others on that historic trip included Tony Travers, Jackie Sadek and Alistair Subba-Row. We came back enthused and motivated and the Circle Initiative was born which brought in the early BIDs. We have come a long way with this important public/private partnership model which has enhanced many parts of London and other parts of the UK where BIDs have been adopted. 

My next meeting was with NWEC BID CEO Jace Tyrrell and the London Communications Agency team to discuss arrangements for our Labour and Conservative Party Conference Dinners in the Autumn. Nothing beats thinking ahead!

I finished the afternoon over tea with Laura Mazzeo of architects Farrells. We covered a huge range of thought provoking issues including the influx of Chinese developers into the UK, the differences between the development process in Hong Kong and London, the effect of artificial intelligence on jobs and lifestyle and designing buildings so they can be repurposed as necessary. Laura has lived and worked in many different places so has a good overview of cultural differences.

Dinner was at Cannes institution Maschou in the old town, courtesy of Harvey Soning and NWEC. Guests included Cllr Robert Davis, Sir Peter Rogers, EG editor Damian Wild and Barry Williamson, Head of Coutts Real Estate. The restaurant specialises in meat cooked in their special wood fired oven.

A busy first day and an early night ready for tomorrow's packed agenda.

MIPIM 2016

My day started with an early Movers & Shakers breakfast on devolution co-hosted with JLL. JLL's Katie Kopec set the scene with a canter through the comparative tax take across a number of international cities. London only retains 7% of its tax income although, from next year, its councils  will retain 100% business rates. We learnt that New York retains 23% of its income tax and that Berlin has a dog tax. Devolution is under way and cities that control more tax can invest in local infrastructure. More, she said, will be happening in collaboration and following the Budget announcement of  combined authorities, local authorities will be working together. As George Osborne said 'North, South, East and West the devolution revolution is under way.'

Panellist Sir Eddie Lister referred to the £80m allocated in the Budget to Crossrail 2 as key, as it will enable a hybrid Bill by 2018. The Bill, he explained  is important as we will otherwise spend 33 years debating it! Also we need to be better at taxing the uplift in property values. A TIF, he suggested, is needed to bring benefits. 'This time we want the cash', he said.

Audience member Jace Tyrrell of New West End Company asked how the panel see the role of the 200 UK BIDs. Sir Eddie said that with more devolution, BIDs will have a better idea of what is needed. The session ended with a well-deserved round of applause for London Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff, Sir Eddie Lister, for his contribution to MIPIM over a number of years.

It's just as well that Housing & Planning Minister Brandon Lewis MP brought sunny weather to Cannes. He arrived in the wake of 'wet Wednesday' and of the Budget, which had itself caused something of a storm. When the BPF issues a press release containing the words 'extremely disappointing' and 'deals a huge blow to the build-to-rent sector,' you know you have cause for concern. His lightning one day visit contained the usual diverse schedule of events. The Minister started with a CBRE breakfast on PRS and he then addressed a packed City Property Association, London Chamber, Bilfinger GVA lunch at the Radisson Blu Hotel. During the Q&A session, Pocket CEO Marc Vlessing said it took him 18 months to buy public sector land and 6 months to buy private sector land. What was the government going to do about it? The Minister assured us it was a problem he was aware of and to 'watch this space.'

Then, after a tour round the Exhibition stands it was back up the Croisette for the Brandon Lewis and Rio Ferdinand Legacy project launch. We duly took up our positions at the CBRE apartment with a crowd of other guests and waited. It was CBRE 'secret weapon' Reg who saved the day. He pointed out that we were at the Spanish party and should be in the upstairs apartment with Aviva. Thank you Reg as we nearly missed all the fun!  Rio Ferdinand presented Legacy, a business model designed to provide affordable housing. Hopefully private sector developers and local authorities will be able to get behind it. It was great to hear about an initiative promoted by sporting legends such as Rio Ferdinand and I was delighted to have my pic taken with him at MIPIM.

It's a small world in real estate! At the elegant Topland buffet lunch in the Sharon Stone suite atop the Carlton Hotel you can see the whole sweep of the Cannes coastline. Here alongside other guests, I met one of my neighbours for the first time.

Harvey Soning's Thursday night party in partnership with Coutts, for many years a MIPIM institution, seemed to be busier than ever. So much so that I couldn't get within striking distance of the legendary smoked salmon. It was an interesting opportunity to catch up in real life with an increasing band of Twitter acquaintances and, as a completely new departure, with people who have met my new portrait! I have yet to make its acquaintance in person but it seems to be pretty good at networking.

Dinner was back at my favourite Cannes restaurant, Petite Maison. Our informally assembled  table included Ross Bailey and Tom Bloxham who I had just name checked in my Estates Gazette piece on networking and collaboration, along with The Collective's Reza Merchant, BPF CEO Melanie Leech and BNP Paribas's James Max (who somehow also finds time for his live radio show between 2am and 6am on Saturday morning). We worked out that if Ross got in early from partying he would be just in time to phone in before 6am. It was a great combination of guests and hugely entertaining. Apologies to the gathering, for ordering for them, especially as they were looking forward to ordering a la carte after a week of feasting on set menus! It was a great warm up for a birthday party at Bâoli. The club was heaving and it seemed the whole of MIPIM's 88 national delegations were there so a great bonding experience. Then finally a trek along the jetty for a visit to The Boat that Rocks for some live music and dancing.

Was it a good MIPIM? I would say, one of the best. There is clearly a lot of uncertainty around Brexit, the London Mayoral election and then with some unexpected Budget announcements thrown in. But overall it was interesting few days with useful time spent with clients and some unscheduled exciting new contacts to explore. We launched our 2016 Collaborators, an initiative with Estates Gazette.

Just a final sartorial word in dispatches. Last year we remarked on the tide of grey suits and started a Twitter campaign to encourage more colour. This year, a few splashes of colour noted. Essential Living's Darryl Flay and Mansford's Charles Knight were  elegant in royal blue. Roger Southam as usual stood out in bright purple and green suits. I have to mention London Chamber CEO Colin Stanbridge for his striking red socks and of course designer Steve Edge for his much coveted sequinned silver jacket. Also Tower Hamlets' Ken Clark for his sequinned green tie to mark St Patrick's Day. Of course a spate of St Patricks Day celebrations caused green hats to mushroom all round Cannes, which the locals seemed to find mystifying. I'm sure there are many others so let me know who I have missed. Finally, a vibrant splash of floral colour from the excellent Carlton Hotel.

After a late night following our lively MIPIM dinner I was on parade bright and early (but without a voice!) Some of our guests seemed similarly afflicted. The early start was for the BPF International Investor Breakfast sponsored by Bilfinger GVA. It was an impressive international turnout with standing room only for latecomers. We were informed that although MIPIM delegates were here in record numbers, the French delegation had again pipped the Brits at the post and, at the last moment, beaten us to be the largest MIPIM delegation. This was possibly due in some way to the presence of the French interior Minister, whose ten car cavalcade I saw yesterday as he visited the London Stand. He was surrounded by swarms of police, minders and camera crews. I doubt that our Housing and Planning minister Brandon Lewis MP will have that sort of entourage when he makes his flying visit to MIPIM.

At the BPF breakfast speakers dwelt on the likely market effects of the upcoming EU Referendum. SEGRO CEO, David Sleath, spoke of the build to rent sector beginning to attract investors. He described it as a fantastic way to solve the housing crisis whilst attracting good returns for investors. 

Then, as the rain clouds gathered, there was time for a quick race up the Croisette to catch LCA's Robert Gordon Clark interviewing London Chamber President, Tony Pidgley. "After 50 years of house building", he says, "why are we such NIMBYs and why can't house building be a force for good?" Even before the Budget, Mr Pidgley was asking "where is the sense of SDLT?"  "We need to get on with infrastructure", he said, "and the continual drive at taxing isn't good." And,in support of the build to rent sector, he added "there's nothing wrong with renting". I haven't yet had a chance to hear his views on the surprise SDLT provisions announced in the Budget.

The EU referendum came up again of course, as it has done at every panel discussion. In a lighter moment, Pidgley quipped that as President of the London Chamber he wouldn't have to fall on his sword if he gave a personal view on the referendum as CEO Colin Stanbridge would stick it in him! Commenting on 'superb' Peter John, Leader of Southwark, Pidgley described him as someone who makes things happen and went on to suggest that the London Council leaders should make up the London Assembly, working with the Mayor to make things happen. "Collaboration and partnership is important", he added.

Capco's coffee bar on the London Standreally came into its own as the weather deteriorated. Delegates huddled together looking for a heater or a hot drink. At one point the queue for coffee snaked right round their stand. Lunch in a beach restaurant was a somewhat soggy affair as the high winds buffeted the awnings and rain dripped onto our table. I was entertained by pop up provider, Appear Here's Ross Bailey and his French partner, who has just launched their Paris operation. We then braved the storm to go back to the Carlton for meetings. With everyone scrabbling for a table inside, it became survival of the fittest in the hotel bar.

There was just time to change into dry clothes before setting off in the still pouring rain for Property Week's inaugural Editor's dinner, hosted by James Andrew International and New West End Company. There was a great cross section of the industry represented and guests were treated to a fabulous dinner. I was banned from tweeting but you will be able to read about our animated discussion shortly in Property Week. Sadly my voice had disappeared by this point,so I had to play voyeur for much of the evening.  

The final stop after fighting our way through the high winds and driving rain was the spectacular Tristan Capital beach party. The fitting theme this year was super heroes and it was encouraging to see so many from the real estate sector dressed as caped crusaders!

Collaboration and networking are key at MIPIM – read Susan's Estates Gazette article here.

After a longish lead in period and a wonderfully relaxed dinner hosted by London Chamber's Mark Collins and Colin Stanbridge, it was great to get started in earnest on MIPIM day one. The weather, which is clearly going to be a feature of this year's MIPIM, was warm enough for breakfast on the Carlton Terrace with Gabrielle Berring from Lloyds Bank. We compared itineraries and wardrobes before starting in the gruelling round of meetings, seminars and meals. We agreed that a mix of existing contacts and new was the ideal mix for MIPIM.                                 

The London Stand was the busiest I've seen it for the opening morning. Fortunately the sun terrace was open as the stand wouldn't have accommodated everyone inside.

An interesting transport panel chaired by London Chamber's Colin Stanbridge included Fiona Fletcher Smith and Transport for London Commercial Director Graeme Craig. There was discussion around the importance of infrastructure to London and the announcements in the Budget on Crossrail 2 and how that will be funded by London. TfL have a wealth of opportunities and the question in the short term is how we address planning and design to ensure Londoners see the benefit as soon as possible.

A panel discussing what we want from the next London mayor gave City of Westminster Cllr Robert Davis, the opportunity to voice his concerns. 'Housing is the single biggest issue,' he said and he wants to see a clear programme of concerted measures to address this. He wants the Mayor to help with affordable housing and to work collaboratively with other boroughs. He is also looking for leadership in pan London initiatives. 'Importantly,' said Cllr Davis, 'the Mayor needs to focus on strategic issues and not interfere in the detail.' (Clearly there had been offending interference, but of which sort we were not privy to!). 'There should be a partnership between the Mayor's office and the London local authorities.' Berkeley's Tony Pidgley cited the importance of infrastructure as it drives housing. He is concerned about SDLT as it has caused transaction numbers to drop. Not a good thing. 'The Mayor,' he says, 'must be pragmatic and build houses. We have to get public and private sector working together and mustn't be held up by central government.'

Stanhope's Mark Ridley pointed to build to rent as important for large schemes as it can be up and running twice as fast. It is also backed by a different pool of funding than for sale housing. Cllr Davis finished the debate saying 'local authorities are best placed to make local decisions. The Mayor should put politics aside and work with all of us.'

The next event was the London Chamber drinks reception with words from their President Tony Pidgley in which the negative effect of the SDLT hikes again featured. We were also addressed by Deputy Mayor Sir Eddie Lister. It was then straight to a fantastic lunch hosted by New West End Company, WPA and Levy in the picturesque gardens of the Majestic Hotel. Lunch was followed by a client meeting, Lloyds drinks reception, FTI and Santander drinks reception before assembling for our annual Mishcon de Reya dinner for clients and friends at the unparalleled Petite Maison. Everyone was on top form and the terrific live music inevitably led to some lively post dinner dancing.

MIPIM 2015

Susan Freeman, Mishcon de Reya reflects on #MIPIMUK - The Focus Blog

I can’t think many property events give such access to top politicians, property industry titans and local authorities together in one place. On Day 2 of the show, I was talking to Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis MP over lunch about Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) with the inimitable Jackie Sadek who was escorting the Minister. We were able to point out to the Minister that, some 15 years ago, we were both part of Pat Brown’s (number 20 in The Collaborators Top 50 List!) Study Group to New York that proved to be the catalyst for the introduction of BIDs to the UK.

Following this exchange, I ran into London Deputy Mayor Sir Eddie Lister who was bemoaning our construction methods, which compare unfavourably with other parts of the world where modular and off site construction speed up the delivery process. In between these encounters, there were many interesting and informative panel sessions with property legends such as  Derwent’s John Burns and Helical’s Mike Slade. They were such an entertaining double act that I suggested a two man TV show. ‘The Two Ronnies?’ shot back Burns immediately.

View the full article


Collaboration must evolve to rid sector of 'exclusive reputation'

MIPIM UK 2015: Collaboration in property should not always be partnerships “between friends” if the sector is to shake its exclusive reputation.

Ross Bailey, founder of pop-up retail start up Appear Here said that the industry needs to be careful it does not only join forces internally at this morning’s session Collaboration as a catalyst for investment.

“It can’t just be about existing friendships,” he said. “The worrying thing about the property industry is that it can be very closed to those outside.

To view the full article, please click here.

Interview: Dr Pippa Malmgren

Former White House advisor Dr Pippa Malmgren, who stars in our pre MIPIM party film (see below), met Estates Gazette Features & Global Editor, Emily Wright at the party which resulted in this fascinating Estates Gazette interview entitled 'Can you be a sexy woman and work in the White House?'

Please click here to view the article.


Mishcon de Reya's Annual MIPIM Dinner at Petite Maison

Once again a great evening was had by all at the annual Mishcon MIPIM client dinner at Petite Maison. Please click here for a selection of photos.


Susan Freeman at MIPIM 2015: A Networking Whirlwind

Widely known as one of real estate's best networkers, there is no worthwhile event at MIPIM that Mishcon de Reya partner Susan Freeman does not know about. This year, reporting for Estates Gazette, she made sure readers knew all about them too. For an abridged version of Susan's MIPIM blogs please see P.21 of Estates Gazette MIPIM Review 2015 'A Networking Whirlwind.'

To view the full Estates Gazette MIPIM Review, please click here.

Read Susan's blog, here.

MIPIM Day Four: Apparently the Tristan Capital bash continued unabated until 4am this morning. Hats off to those who made it until the end and were still up for early morning meetings!

The ‘Undertakers’ Convention’ slur seems to have caused quite a stir, and there was the very occasional splash of colour glimpsed on the Croisette. I want to mention in dispatches Mansford’s Charles Knight, who was looking immaculate in a blue suit for a breakfast meeting this morning with my almost equally elegant colleagues, Nick Doffman and Daniel Lipman.

Meetings were at the Carlton this morning so I didn’t even see the sun except during a quick circuit of the driveway before lunch. The Topland buffet lunch was held in the discreet elegance of the Carlton’s Sharon Stone Suite, which certainly lives up to its glamorous name. High up on the seventh floor, its balcony overlooks the sweep of the Cannes beaches and beyond. It was good to catch up with the Zakays and the Topland team, who have been Mishcon clients for over twenty years. Their businesses continue to expand and their hotel business, whose jewel in the crown is the Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath, makes them the second-largest private hotel owners in the UK.

Then a quick canter down to the Majestic for the MIPIM UK tea party. With his customary attention to detail, Reed-MIDEM UK managing director Peter Rhodes had been busying himself instructing the French waiting staff on how to make a proper English cup of tea. Who will fulfil this role for future MIPIMs? Estates Gazette editor Damian Wild concluded his introduction with the hope that we will have only one general election in 2015. You can say that again! Reed-MIDEM’s Julien Sausset described having to speak after Damian as being a “punishment” as he is “not so comfortable” with public speaking (he speaks very well especially as English is not his first language). He talked about the exciting plans for the second MIPIM UK in London in October, which he says will have more of a London focus than last year’s inaugural event. The auditoriums will be extended to provide better capacity for the excellent panels and presentations which were a great feature of the conference. It remains to be seen whether Boris will join us again and, depending on the outcome of the election, whether the prime minister will grace us with his presence!

With tea hardly over it was time for the James Andrew International and Coutts & Co party. It was busier than ever – hardly surprising as it’s such a well-attended event and the only MIPIM party at which you are served smoked salmon specially flown in from London.

According to David Pearl (who nobody could accuse of dressing like an undertaker!) the two nicest men in property are Harvey Soning and Ian Marcus. I second that wholeheartedly, although, I would like Ian even more if he didn’t arrange his Prince’s Trust regeneration dinner on the very same night as the Mishcon pre-MIPIM party. Next year we will liaise on dates! Ian had time as we met fleetingly on my usual corner on the Croisette, to refer to Michael Grade’s joke about Non Executive Directors. “They are like bidets,” he said. “You aren’t sure what they are for but they add class!” I’m not sure if Liz Peace and other friends considering ‘going plural’ would agree with that assessment.

Then it was a relaxed evening serenaded by the Gypsy Queens at Petite Maison, again. The dinner was co-hosted with my longstanding MIPIM and MAPIC co-collaborator Clare Hartnell, formerly at Grant Thornton and now at FTI. After dinner, down to the ‘Boat That Rocks’ party courtesy of Citygrove and Doherty Baines. The boat certainly rocked with music from a live band and intrepid MIPIM goers partied the night away.

Despite the seemingly endless round of parties and meetings, team Mishcon also managed to close a number of deals during the week including acting for another longstanding client, the Dellal family, on the purchase of the West End headquarters of BHS.

As MIPIM draws to a close, a few random observations. It has been interesting to get to know some the new generation of property players and disruptors, such as Ross Bailey, Charles Curtis and Yonni Abramson and all the others who will be playing more of a role at future MIPIMs. And top of my wish list for next year? Let’s have better WiFi , a Twitter leaderboard and a new set of steps to give a more stylish entry point to the London Stand.

Wednesday was always going to be a marathon. I achieved my goal of getting to two breakfasts, two lunches, various dinners and parties and lived to tell the tale. I reckon some of you must be reading this if all the “street corner” comments are anything to go by (see yesterday’s blog), so I will continue.

First up was the British Property Federation investment breakfast, a very busy event at which there was standing room only. GVA’s Rob Bould alerted us to the fact that MIPIM is known as the “undertakers’ conference” because there are so many grey suits (there’s a selection of them, pictured right). Can we please dispel this notion by wearing something colourful? Then the equally packed Movers & Shakers and JLL MIPIM breakfast on UK city leadership. The excellent panel trumped all others by including three Knights of the Realm: Sir Eddie Lister, Sir Howard Bernstein and Sir Mike Bear. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the fourth panellist, Birmingham CEO Mark Rogers gets his gong.

Sir Eddie made a compelling argument for London to have access to its own tax income. Crossrail 2 will cost £28bn, of which the government will only fund part. There is no point looking for Chinese investment, he said, unless there is an income stream to pay it back. A question was raised on “reshoring” – bringing business back to the UK – and, for me, a new expression, “northshoring” which means putting back offices into cheaper locations.

The next hour was spent navigating the back streets of Cannes to locate the local “cordonnier” to mend my broken boot. This involved a negotiation to retrieve the boot before evening. The local shops still manage to close for a couple of hours over lunch – a practice which seems so quaint to a Londoner. I missed the LandAid tennis tournament so I am unclear who won, but a medal should go to Darryl Flay, James Moody, John Slade and Richard Fagg for competing. John Slade must have been the winner in the sartorial stakes judging by the pic I took as he left the Carlton.

Lunch started with the Europa Capital buffet lunch on the beach. Perfect for relaxed conversation and great to catch up with my host Erik Ruane. Then back along the beach for the Savills beach lunch courtesy of Ned Bowers, Michael Sharpe-Neal and Luke Hawkesbury who hosted a Who’s Who of the residential property world. Before I knew it, it was 3pm and time to reclaim the boot for a quick dash back to the Palais for Pat Brown’s London stand panel “Where next for BIDS?” A fascinating debate ensued between the panel of Business Improvement District (BID) experts with women outnumbering the men by two to one, for a change.

After excellent drinks receptions with CapCo and London Chamber of Commerce, dinner was with Robert Davis (that’s me and him, right) and the New West End Company, the UK’s largest retail BID, representing 600 businesses in the retail heartland of London’s West End including Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street. They, along with Heart of London BID, have ballots this year to include property owners for the first time. It is essential that these succeed to bring us into line with the US remodel and ensure property owners are obliged to contribute.

If you are an affected property owner make sure you vote in favour in the upcoming ballot so that your BID can be even more effective. As it does, conversation turned to the recently published Estates Gazette Power List 2015. This must have been the first property power list in years that didn’t include former BPF chief Liz Peace. An interesting and surprising omission though was Crown Estate supremo, Alison Nimmo bearing in mind the Crown’s substantial landowning, particularly in London’s west end.

The night continued with some great parties courtesy of Legal & General, Tristan Capital and AEW. Those that still had the stamina (and/or flat shoes) danced the night away in style. At Tristan Capital I was reunited with my long-standing MIPIM pal Tom Bloxham, who was still wearing the hat and also some fetching Birkenstock sandals. The very elegant Russian ladies we met assumed he had problems with his feet which necessitated remedial footwear! It was also good to run into Pradera’s Neil Varnham although he does insist on saying I am the person in real estate he has known longest.

The music from the parties was still going strong when I turned in at 2am. “A normal MIPIM” as Peter Bill has christened it continues.

MIPIM Day Two Tuesday didn’t start well. A “goat rodeo”, as my twitter acquaintance Guy Grainger said MIPIM had been described to him. An American expression, akin to “herding cats” I imagine.

Anyway, the breakfast I had planned at the Carlton was apparently moved to the Majestic so I had breakfast toute seule while grappling with the Carlton’s “upgraded” WiFi so I could file my blog and send emails.

In fact, the WiFi here seems to be beset with problems generally in the hotels and on the London stand. Perhaps next year arrangements could be made to boost connectivity for the main trade show for this, the most connected of industries so that we can get word to the outside world of the exciting events unfolding at MIPIM. It’s not quite the World Economic Forum at Davos but a twitter leaderboard should not be out of the question.

I have noted particularly this year that delegates are so intent on scanning their iPhones to catch the latest email or tweet that I have narrowly avoided a number of near collisions on the Croisette. Apart from the collision risk there is a danger of missing out on real networking opportunities while focusing on the virtual.

The London stand was busy with numerous panel presentations, as speakers struggled to make themselves heard above the excited cacophony of conversation. There was the unveiling of the amazing new London model. Much bigger and better than last year, although, as Sir Eddie Lister pointed out, there are still a few blank spaces to be completed by developers. A senior figure, who asked to remain nameless, quipped that the bright red ribbon down its centre must be the third runway. London deputy mayor Ric Blakeway later suggested that the ribbon must be Crossrail 3. “Things are looking pretty good”, he pronounced.

Industry veteran Peter Bill, in summing up at the Levy and Westminster Property Association lunch, outlined his take on the threats and opportunities for London – among the former, AirBnB, competition from Berlin and Frankfurt, and he warned darkly of “complacency”. “It feels like 2006,” he warned, so don’t let complacency set in. Top of his list of opportunities? Old people, as they have loads of money to spend.

The opening night party at the Carlton was an odd affair. When I left the hotel there seemed to be more people queuing disconsolately outside to come in and being barred entry than there were inside. Usually the whole hotel is thronged with seemingly thousands of MIPIM delegates. Clearly there was a new system this year, but I have no idea how it works.

Tonight was also the annual Mishcon de Reya MIPIM dinner at another Cannes institution, Petite Maison. Fortunately, my photographer of choice Tom Campbell was on hand to capture some of the high spirits. The room was the usual riotous gathering of real estate’s great and good. British Land’s Chris Grigg rubbed shoulders with Nick Candy. The place was heaving, the food fantastic, but sadly in the end we couldn’t do justice to the tiramisu.

On the walk back, Deirdre Foley and I made the mistake of stopping on a corner to catch up on the day’s events. We realised pretty quickly from the appraising looks we were getting from passing punters, that for ladies at MIPIM, standing on street corners is not a good networking ploy.

Apologies to the gentleman who invited me for a drink… And on the subject of women’s networking, for the first time at MIPIM, I was invited to a number of women’s networking events. I’m not sure about this new departure, but would welcome comments from others.

Despite what you may have heard about warm sunny weather it’s freezing as soon as the sun goes in. Even the local pooches are wearing overcoats (see picture, left, of a well-dressed local canine). And for the benefit of @Rupertthedog_ I’m pleased to report that dogs are still welcome at the Carlton breakfast buffet.

I now feel vindicated in bringing 11 pairs of footwear (see yesterday’s blog) as the cobbles have already done for the heels on one pair of boots.

MIPIM Day One: This promises to be a vintage MIPIM. UK delegate numbers are up 20% on last year, I was reliably informed by FTI’s Sue Brown on the packed flight out of Heathrow this morning. Interestingly, Sue also reports that MIPIM UK has generated additional interest from people who haven’t previously attended MIPIM Cannes. And, as a bonus, the weather promises to be reasonably sunny and warm, which is more than can be said for previous years where cold and monsoon-like rain has put a dampener on proceedings.

It’s good to be back at the Carlton where allegedly improved WiFi in the rooms may mean I don’t have to go down to the bar in the early hours to file my blog! A particular thank you to Reed-MIDEM, managing director Peter Rhodes for the beautiful flowers. This will be Peter’s last MIPIM so it’s very much the end of an era. He has been and integral part of building MIPIM from its small beginnings 26 years ago to the successful international trade fair it is now and I have enjoyed plotting with him along the way!

Nobody could have been more tenacious in protecting the interests of the organisers. Who can forget the phone call from Mr Rhodes following the SFO dawn raid on the Tchenguizes on the first day of MIPIM in 2011, suggesting that they should be registering for MIPIM if they were planning a party in Cannes, as reported by the news channels. Peter we will miss you.

So what’s new in Cannes? For one thing, Le Festival restaurant, is no more. Its great corner position on the Croisette gave it the best vantage point for MIPIM people watching and its popularity with locals and visitors alike made it a Cannes institution. It and Le Comptoir restaurant next door have been obliterated to make way for a new Hermès store. As much as I love shopping, if these restaurants and cafés are allowed to close, where, apart from the hotels, can we rendezvous for coffee? Perhaps it’s part of the greater Reed- MIDEM plan to encourage us all back into the Palais?

I arrived straight from the airport with just time to drop my bags at the hotel before joining the end of lunch with McAlpine’s Robert Neill at the Armani café, seemingly one of the few remaining Croisette cafe/restaurant establishments.  Then on to a meeting with Pat Brown, my co-collaborator in the Big Think on the Future of London series of linked debates. After the success of our dinner debates at the Labour and Conservative party conferences and at MIPIM UK, we are looking for sponsorship for the next series. High on our agenda is the profile of the property sector and how best to promote the positive contribution that developers make in so many ways, including placemaking.

Then on to a great MIPIM warm-up dinner with Harvey Soning, Coutts’s Barry Williamson and Liz Peace at Maschou in the old town. This is another real Cannes institution, which has been serving fantastic food for over 50 years. Then back to the Carlton for drinks with Anthony Tokatly and Tony Lorenz (star of the recent TV show on Mayfair.) Where was Sebastian, his parrot  co-star, I asked. “He’ll be flying in later” said Tony, without missing a beat. There was much talk  of the inaugural MIPIM tennis match on Wednesday morning to raise money for Land Aid. Some £25,000 has already been raised so come along on Wednesday morning to support this worthy  cause.

Finally, time to unpack my case before turning in. I feel I may have overdone the shoes this year… I counted 11 pairs, including two pairs of boots, on the basis that you can’t have too many shoes. Hopefully some of them will prove up to the task of marching up and down the Croisette. Next year, it’s roller skates.

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