Optimism in the air for property show

Kasmira Jefford
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AROUND 19,000 delegates are expected to attend MIPIM, the world’s largest property conference, which begins in Cannes today – a rise of 1,000 compared to the year before.

More than 90 countries are attending the four-day extravaganza to discuss investment opportunities and showcase property from the City of London to Manchester and Birmingham.

Event organiser Reed MIDEMs’s managing director Peter Rhodes OBE, said the event – which has seen improved attendance since the property crash in 2008 – remained “the only truly international gathering of the property industry”.

“In times of economic difficulty truly [MIPIM] comes into its own as a place for people to meet and do business,” he told City A.M.

Matt Mason, a director at German property company IVG who is taking part in the Aedas Cycle to Cannes charity ride, said there was “an air of optimism” around this year’s gathering.

“The first quarter of this year has been more optimistic. Obama has been talking more optimistically and the markets have started to recover from their 2011 losses”, Mason said.

Germany will take centre stage as MIPIM 2012 Country of Honour and former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer will be delivering the keynote speeches.

Among this year’s key themes will be the 2012 Olympics, with Baroness Margaret Ford, chair of the Olympic Park Legacy providing a speech on its potential for regenerating London’s property markets.

Meanwhile Standard & Poor’s chief economist for Europe, Jean-Michel Six, will also give a speech outlining real estate investment opportunities in the current economic climate.

There will also be a particular focus on the lack of debt finance in the property sector as banks continue to reduce their exposure to the real estate lending market.

One senior banker told City A.M. that there was likely to be discussions at MIPIM around new regulatory changes being proposed by the Financial Services Authority that could see banks forced to hold more capital against their real estate portfolios.

Under new rules that could come into force in June, banks would be required to use “slotting” – a stricter classification of their property loans. Banks are likely to respond by cutting back lending or charging more.

Among other guests attending the property fair are Chris Grigg, chief executive of property developer British Land and Liz Peace, chair of the British Property Federation who will be leading talks on how to unlock private investment and conventional bank lending to fund regeneration schemes in the UK.

MIPIM awards will also take place on Thursday, with the City’s Heron Tower shortlisted for best office and business development.