MIPIM’s mood of cautious optimism

Bruce-Deer.gifGuest Blogger: Bruce Dear, Head of London Real Estate, Eversheds LLP.

“The Sick Man of Europe”, Turkey’s tag line in the Nineteenth Century. I remember mugging that up for A Level. Well, rather like Benjamin Button, Turkey has got healthier and younger, as the rest of Europe has got older.

Istanbul shopping centres and logistics look very interesting for real estate investors. Turkey has a young and growing population, with money to spend. The biggest mall in the world is in Istanbul.

As the meeting point of the Bosphorus, Balkans and Middle East there is an obvious logistics and light industrial play. Competition is also not as fierce as in the Far East. UK real estate players should take a closer look at Turkey. The Sick Man has become a Healthy Adolescent.

The Turkish stands were genuinely some of the most interesting at MIPIM with no gimmicks-just information and models of the developments.

We held our signature dinner for sixty at Casa Mia last night,  with some fascinating guests including the CEO of a major Scandanavian Pension Fund and (the ever ebullient) Steve Norris, now Chairman of Soho Estates.

Steve told tales of running a luxury car business with Sir Ronnie Hoare in the ’70s, driving Ferraris and Lambourghini’s back from an older, more charming Cannes. Those were the days before the Angry Gods of Architecture hurled the Bunker on to the Croisette. Bardot’s Croisette beach pout had made Cannes one big jet set party. Has there even been a better first job than Steves’?

More seriously, where did the guests think the market was going?

Residential was one consensus. The recently published UK Residential Index shows residential outperforming each of the retail, industrial and office sectors over the last ten years.

Particularly powerful is the coming growth of nursing home and healthcare assets. The need for old people to be housed properly, in safe and secure environments, is going to become overwhelming. My partner, William Naunton, is building a strong practice in the area.

Quality and situation of building and stable income are going to be key. Don’t expect massive capital growth, the yield compression wave has subsided to a ripple. Don’t expect raging rental growth. Just be satisfied with reliable income. The Governor of the Bank of England’s watch word for the economy of the next ten years? PATIENCE. (Maybe add a little prayer!).

Bank de-leveraging. OK their lack of lending to the sector will slow recovery, but the unwinding of their loan books will present opportunities. Look at Loan Star’s Project Royal Portfolio or Grainger’s residential JV with Lloyds (Nick On of Grainger was one of our dinner guests).

My partner Gurj Atwal had been talking to David Atkins, CEO of Hammerson. He is in no doubt that HUK’s shares have been bought partly on HUK’s sustainability credentials and sees huge value (moral and financial) in sustainability as an integrated part of the properties of the future.

The death of regeneration may have been exaggerated. Especially where entrepreneurial councils meet a flexible private sector. My partner Stephen Sorrell is involved in the First Street Project, a 20 acre mixed use scheme in Manchester anchored by a 50,000 square foot cultural signature building.

It has been a brilliant MIPIM and it’s not just the excellent food and wine of Casa Mia that generated a mood of cautious optimism.

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