The music rises in volume on the yachts moored in the marina. Cocktails proliferate on the terraces and balconies of La Croisette boulevard. As the sun disappears, not too late because it's still winter, Cannes It exhibits all its charm at the rhythm of a festival. But this nothing has to do with the cinema. Here the greatest star is the architect Jean Nouvel, commander of the Order of Arts and Letters of France, and those around him are basically those who will soon close (if they have not done so) a large urban operation or the construction of a skyscraper he will hear about. They have come to the southeast corner of France to attend Mipim, an obligatory annual meeting for the world's great brick investors. If it is impossible to keep track of the glasses of champagne that move from hand to hand, it is more complicated to do so with the cards that are exchanged. Because everyone remembers that here comes above all to work. And a lot.
Half of the 100 largest funds real estate investment from all over the planet pass through Cannes during Mipim, according to their managers. Also 80 of the 100 largest investment management companies, with a portfolio of assets of around 2,600 million euros. The fair is attended by promoters, consultants, law firms, hotel chains or banks, although most of the exhibitors are from cities and countries. "It's the annual meeting of the cities with the real estate industry," says Filippo Rean, director of the Real Estate Division of Reed Mipim, the company that organizes the event and has invited EL PAÍS to attend. London, Paris, Moscow or Istanbul mark the passage with large tents next to the Palace of Festivals. Cities that compete for the biggest model or the maximum financing for their projects. Sometimes it is just soil, sometimes a concrete building or the reordering of a new urban area. But where an agreement closes, a red flag is placed. Sold.
Mipim, who celebrated his 30th birthday between March 12 and 15, was not always like that. "30 years ago it was an event very focused on investment and very focused on France, the United Kingdom and Germany," explains Rean. 29 editions of the fair contemplate Mark Dixon, founder of the firm specialized in shared work spaces IWG (Regus). "I was young when I started," jokes this 60-year-old Englishman with a fortune estimated at 1,150 million euros. Forbes. For Dixon, who at business meetings adds lecturer work and a busy schedule of attention to the media, the most interesting thing is that the appointment has become a "melting pot of new things". In short, as almost all of them come, a place to capture market trends and new business opportunities.
Casinos in Japan, cannabis in Malta
To the stands a motley program of conferences is added and Tokyo shows off planning presenting its projects for the hangover of the Olympic Games of 2020. One of them is the integrated resorts, a new concept in the sector, that a speaker clarifies almost excusing himself: "The reason to talk about integrated resorts is that the casinos have a bad image among the Japanese. " In the same room, just a few hours later, the Minister of Economy of Malta, Christian Cardona, explains the possibilities that the production of cannabis for therapeutic use with destination to Canada and Israel. The only thorny issue is politics. When Jean Nouvel has just presented a project for the city of São Paulo (Brazil), about 300 people stampede and leave one of the largest auditoriums in the palace almost empty. The next conference? The future of real estate investment in the United Kingdom in the context of Brexit.
By Mipim 2019 have passed 26,800 people, all professionals of the sector. The ticket, which is valid for four days and gives access to an extensive database of participants, costs more than 2,000 euros. The City Council of Cannes calculates that the fair generates more than 71,000 hotel overnight stays and has an economic impact of 104 million euros. The Film Festival, whose duration is three times that of the real estate event, generates 90,000 overnight stays and 196 million total economic impact. The City Council refuses to compare both appointments because "the Festival is primarily a cultural event", but stresses that the city's leisure offer "allows for a networking (making work contacts) permanently beyond the boundaries of the fairgrounds. " Marine Courte, 56 years old and neighbor of the city for 13 years, confirms it. "I've never seen so many people in the city like yesterday," he says, referring to the bars that surround the Festival Palace. Courte speaks from his position, in full sun, at a flea market vintage that this week changes the dates to try to take advantage of the pull. Is this like the film festival? "It depends, but I prefer Mipim's clientele."
240 Spanish companies
The Spanish presence at the fair grows every year, although it is light years away from the pioneer countries and, experts say, what the Spanish real estate market represents internationally. The edition that has just taken place has counted 491 attendees (9.6% more than in 2018) and 240 companies (19% more). Basically, the bet is divided between two poles: the position of Barcelona-Catalonia and the Spanish Pavillion. The booth Catalan already had a certain tradition and its leaders (the Generalitat through Incasòl, the Barcelona City Council and the Barcelona Metropolitan Area) decided to keep their location inside the Palace when the idea of raising a Spanish pavilion in one of the exterior terraces. "Our objective is to sell land, but also to sell an own story in town planning and country model," says Roger Rosich, member of the management office of Incasòl, the Catalan soil institute.
For practical purposes, both spaces work in a similar way. They welcome a series of institutions or companies interested in attracting investors, to whom they present their projects at meeting tables. In the Spanish pavilion, stand out the 25 square meters that occupies the City council of Malaga, approximately one third of the total. The Consistory allocates 70,000 euros to dispose of that space and move six people to Cannes. At 700 euros a night in a hotel, you have to sleep in Nice and travel every day. A viewer shows the more than 60 projects seeking private financing in the Andalusian city. "Mipim has generated many contacts with companies, in the first two days there have been about 30 interested," explains José Cardador, general coordinator of Urbanism and Housing.
In front, Manuel Enrich, director of investor relations at Sareb, takes a wad of various cards out of his pocket. "This is so every day," he clarifies. The body that absorbed the toxic brick of the bank after the bursting of the housing bubble still has more than 35,000 million in assets to be placed. "We can not afford not to be in any event where there is a potential client to sell," says Enrich. And doing business in Mipim, all those who are dedicated to it count, it implies being willing to walk from the marina, where many companies set up their barracks for the fair, until suites overlooking the beach. Sometimes, under the condition of anonymity, someone who has many fairs on his or her back will have to eat breakfast with a client on a yacht and return to breakfast with another at a hotel. And the workday almost always extends until dinner. Or even beyond.
Any general view of Mipim results in a sea of dark suits. Women are a clear minority in a fair that concentrates not only a professional audience, but above all in managerial ranks. The organizers of the fair point out that in the 2019 edition the proportion of women attending has been 22%, the same percentage as that of women who have participated in the conference program, including one dedicated to gender diversity in the sector . Its goal is to reach 25% in two years. Alejandro Campoy, CEO of Savills Aguirre Newman in Spain, provides a clue: "In the real estate market there are few women, but in the consulting sector there are many."
In general, all attendees agree that the situation has improved in recent years. "I remember being the only woman in most dinners and events," says Sandra Daza, general director of Gesvalt. This veteran of the fair, with 11 participations, ensures that she observes in that sense "a clear evolution". From the organization, Philippo Rean also talks about "positive trends". But avoid putting excessive hot packs on a subject that you know is sensitive: "22% yes it's little, it's too little".