A dispatch from MIPIM
by Bob Sturges, Head of PR & Communications

28 March 2017

MIPIM 2017 is over. In what appeared to be another highly successful year for this stalwart of the real estate calendar, Fortwell Capital’s senior team was on the frontline in Cannes to see and hear first-hand what is energising the great and the good of the property world.

That MIPIM continues to pull in the numbers cannot be in doubt. Despite post-referendum questions and sky-high airline fares (no pun intended), the restaurants and bars of La Boulevard de Croisette were as busy as we’ve ever seen in the five years since first making the journey south.

It appears, too, that a record number of British firms and ambitious cities booked expensive exhibiting space in the main MIPIM pavilion.

Conversation was animated and, in our view, decidedly upbeat. We hosted three business-focused events over three days of the property-fest (our sincere thanks to our good friends at Borro and Lucarna Design who co-hosted with us an event apiece), and our fears about a post-Brexit slump in attendance numbers were firmly allayed.

Perhaps buoyed by twin news on the eve of the event that a Hong Kong-based property giant had agreed to buy the Cheesegrater building in the City of London for £1.1bn – a higher price than expected – and that London remains the world’s favourite city for overseas property investment, the general vibe on the ground we trod was overwhelmingly positive. Some might put it down to bravado – or even braggadocio – but we saw in the people we spoke with a sensible realism and determination that was perhaps missing at previous MIPIMs.

Sure, Brexit was high up there for discussion – as was that most currently overused of words, ‘uncertainty’ (when have times ever been completely certain?) – but we were left in no doubt that the people we most want to deal with – SME and boutique developers – are well and truly still in the game and hungry for more.

We want to help them. That’s why we coughed up to host three events, the biggest of which – our annual cocktail reception held in the JW Marriott Cannes – attracted upwards of 100 people from all spheres of the property world: brokers, advisers, investors, valuers, lawyers, media, and, of course, the all-important developers.

Mingling among our canapé-appreciative guests, we were left in no doubt that entrepreneurial developers and investors have a keen eye to the opportunities ahead. They understand where the market can best be served, but remain frustrated by two key elements: the planning process and a perceived shortage of competitive debt funding from lenders who truly understand their needs.

While smaller lenders can’t do much about the arcane planning system, we can raise our game in helping developers understand that there is an alternative to the institutional players. Too many striving, but talented entrepreneurs still think it’s all about the big banks. We need to show them otherwise.

I’d like to think our appearance in Cannes this year was a small step towards making this a reality.

Fortwell Capital in Cannes
Fortwell’s Colin Sanders (CEO) and Martin Gilsenan (sales director) in Cannes