The property industry’s annual backslapper MIPIM was more about building contacts than projects this year.
Since last year’s event, property prices have gone down quicker than a bottle of bubbly in a room full of freeloaders, leaving the delegates little to do other than bask in the Cannes sunshine and title-tattle over their predictions for the coming year.
Attendance was down by 10,000 – that’s a third less than 2008 â€“ and where the standing room only signs were out in the bars and restaurants then, this time anyone could breeze in when they wanted and pick a table.
MIPIM is about the commercial property world – and with global values falling through the floor the event just seemed to have shrunk in line with asset values and profits.
True, some UK civic authorities held back announcements of big projects for the event, but many of the movers and shakers were conspicuous by the absence or low-key approach.
- Manchester regeneration played a key part across the three days of the culminating in a presentation on the city’s ambition to create a global ‘Airport City’ in which people and businesses, logistics and shops, information and entertainment come together and strengthen each other.The hope is Manchester Airport will increase the Â£1bn regional GDP already generated, add to the current 42,000 jobs and see passenger numbers double to more than 50m by 2030.
- Mayor of London Boris Johnson revealed a strategy to lure foreign businesses to the capital by offering a year of free office space. ‘London Now’ is in response to fears that London is losing status as a leading business and financial centre due to the banking crisis.
At the end of the shindig, the big questions that the property development industry needed answering remained as clear as mud:
- Is this as good as it gets?
- When will prices hit rock bottom?
- When will the banks start lending?
To be honest, if someone knew the answers surely they would be leading the impoverished to the promised land of profit.
The fact no one is taking the lead seems to suggest that MIPIM was just an exercise in the blind leading the blind and letting other industry people see that your business hasn’t gone under – yet.
Worryingly, the combined expertise of the 15,000 -18,000 various property experts who advise us lesser mortals on when and how to invest our money don’t seem to have a clue on how to revitalise their business sector
Nevertheless, the Council Tax payers of Manchester must be reassured that even in these times when many of them are losing their jobs and tightening their belts, their city has the cash to charter a yacht and a harbour side stand to hand out free entertainment for the MIPIM festivities.
Now the party’s over and the MIPIM delegates are back at their desks, what actually came out of the weekend?
The answer has to be that the commercial property market is feeling the pinch of recession and the only collective solution is to sit back and see what happens. Most of us could have worked that out without visiting Cannes for the weekend.
Photo credits: John via flickr