AFTER a subdued and more sombre start to MIPIM, the annual property conference in Cannes, the mood began to pick up on Wednesday, the second and busiest day, as the weather brightened and investors began to talk more positively, albeit cautiously about the outlook for real estate this year.

The sun graced Cannes in time for Cushman & Wakefield’s lunchtime beach party where real estate executives such as Hammerson’s chief executive David Atkins and British Land’s head of London Portfolio Tom Elliott hobnobbed, drank wine and discussed, amongst more heavyweight topics – the lack of boats and Ferraris this year at MIPIM.

Agents and fund managers talked – if not a little nostalgically – of the pre-recession years when there was an abundance of parties in hillside villas which often “finished in the gutters”; when scantily clad models draped over exhibition stands, and over sofas at the Majestic and Martinez hotels.

Most agreed publicly, at least, that those days were best left behind and replaced with more serious business.

Vincent Tchenguiz was conspicuously absent after much talk of the property tycoon making a return this year. His arrest by the SFO on the day he was due to host his bash aboard his £10m yacht the Veni Vidi Vici provided much of the thrill at MIPIM last year.

Once meetings were tied up, the cocktail hour began with “happy hour” at the BNP Paribas real estate tent and lawyers Hogan Lovells hosting their annual party with a “big band” made up of none other than their own real estate and litigation dispute partners playing rock ‘n’ roll classics. Who knew such talent lay hidden under the suits? British Land boss Chris Grigg and Peter Pereira Gray, managing director of the Wellcome Trust both turned up for a tipple.

Super-prime property celebrity Nick Candy (right) was spotted at Barclays, Grant Thornton and Nick Cowell’s — brother of X-factor’s Simon Cowell — party at the Vegaluna Plage on Tuesday.

However, the hottest event in town was an exclusive party at the Villa l'Abri in the hills hosted by US investment managers W.P Carey.

Partygoers told The Capitalist of women dressed as Picasso-style inspired mermaids splashing in the pool – it wouldn’t be business at MIPIM without at least some play after all.


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