MIPIM: Delegations set for pre-Brexit battle in Cannes

An invite to the Paris stand at MIPIM in Cannes next week was deftly phrased, suggesting investors and occupiers can explore “opportunities for relocating activities”.

There was no use of the word Brexit – but there is no doubt that the critical issue this year is how the UK’s exit from the European Union and changing world of politics will impact on the real estate industry.

France, of course, is not without potential for political instability as the Front National’s Marine Le Pen, Républicain François Fillon and En Marche! candidate Emmanuel Macron (coincidently a visitor to last year’s MIPIM) battle it out in May for the presidency.

While the Paris region’s head, Valérie Pécresse, and her counterparts from Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt and Luxembourg appear to be on the front foot, the UK is doing its best to appear equally assertive.

This is the first year that the UK’s Department of International Trade will attend the four-day event. Or, as MIPIM puts it, “THE UK POWERS INTO MIPIM”.

The debut of senior UK government ministers says much about the current state of mind on the north side of the English Channel. Cue the use of sound bites ranging from ‘business as usual’, to ‘Britain is great’ and ‘open for business’.

With Brexit imminent, British Property Federation chief executive Melanie Leech, writing for IPE Real Estate, says MIPIM this year will be more important than ever.

The UK’s eventual exit from the EU amplified a slump in investment last year, according to Real Capital Analytics. Investment in London’s commercial real estate market fell 50% in 2016, while Germany became the most active national market in Europe.

At MIPIM’s smaller UK event in London last October, the conclusion from a behind-closed-doors gathering of investors was that the UK was set for months of political and economic uncertainty.

With MIPIM coming as the UK plans to trigger Article 50, expect conversations to get heated, both in the Palais bunker halls and the bars of the many hotels on La Croisette.

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