Mipim Day 1: Here we go again

By Michael Twining, partner, Gowling WLG

Here we go again. Can it really be a year since the last Mipim? Apparently so.

Journey begins somewhat worryingly. A 4am start on one’s 37th birthday is never welcome but taking a wrong turn off the straight road to the airport compounds the problem. Meeting a colleague at the airport who had a 2.30am start puts the smile back on my face.

Plane suspiciously devoid of the usual Mipim-looking people. I can’t have got my dates wrong, can I? Reassuringly, Nice airport is carnage – definitely at the right place.

First meeting with a fund client who is always chipper. A really good way to kick off what could be a gruelling week of meetings, and more excitingly, some new opportunities.

Talk centres around effects of Brexit, effects of US election and a likely Lions XV. Consensus is that (through gritted Welsh teeth) that England will dominate selection but still an All Blacks win.

Next meeting, a US fund client and an intro into our corporate real estate experts. A hot topic as it seems more deals than ever are going down that route. More rugby chat and some really useful insight into the whole Brexit thing. Although pricing is still a tough science, meaning sellers remain reticent, the overall effect is nowhere near as bad as feared. Also discussion of the Dutch/German/French elections, but the view is that that we shouldn’t get ourselves as worked up again as we have done over the past 12 months.

As the evening goes on, I run into a couple of developer clients and agents. Their overwhelming message is that there is cash galore, all looking for rare good quality kit or value add opportunities. But that things are definitely starting to move after a slowish start to 2017. First mention of a new job – predictably it will move quickly and needs to be done in days rather than weeks. Is there any other kind of job nowadays?!

The new deal (apparently) explains their bon viveur and desperation to get tucked into the alcohol shots. Helpfully, I’ve brought my secret weapon – the head of our asset management practice is here and she’s brought her drinking boots. Did I mention she acts for lots of brewery clients? Good luck with the hangovers tomorrow fellas.

As the sun (yes, no rain this year!) sets on our first night in Cannes, the atmosphere seems optimistic and positive – it appears that the world didn’t end after Brexit, nor after the US election. So chances are that it won’t after the elections and challenges of the coming year. A reminder that the UK market is remarkably resilient. Let’s hope our night’s drinking buddies are feeling as resilient in the morning.

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