Will Lewis - Transactions and Asset Management at OBI Property

Written by Will Lewis

It’s almost MIPIM time again. Over the last few years, the property industry’s largest event has become a key date in the OBI calendar, and this year is no exception – once again, we’ll be part of the Manchester delegation, with Richard Lace and myself at the event.

Somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 delegates register for MIPIM, and there are another few thousand, if not more, property people in town. Everybody you need to see is in the same town for a few jam-packed days, so you can get through a crazy amount of catch-ups, briefings and totally accidental - but often productive - meetings with contacts you’ve not seen for years but just happen to bump into.

MIPIM gives us the opportunity to catch up with investors and clients from London and beyond; it provides opportunities to get some insight into the big issues globally and see what thought-leaders and economic crystal ball gazers have to say about where things are heading. In the past few years we’ve enjoyed the views of Bruce Katz, Jim O’Neill and others, and we expect this year to be just as interesting.

It also provides the opportunity to show a bit of support for Manchester as part of the city’s largest delegation yet. The city is this year moving its operations from what has been a much-admired spot overlooking the Croisette at the front of the Palais des Festivals to a new pavilion, the type of facility enjoyed by London, Paris and similar global big hitters. If that’s not a sign of confidence, we don’t know what is.

MIPIM affords us the chance to take the temperature of other UK cities, to gauge how much of a buzz there is around opportunities in the other regional centres. For several of our clients, work we’ve done finding them property solutions in Manchester has led to us working with them in Birmingham, Leeds, London and elsewhere, so this view of the bigger picture is hugely useful.

This will be a big year for some cities, with elections for metro mayors due in May in Greater Manchester, West Midlands, the West of England (Bristol and its surrounds), Liverpool, Tees Valley and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough.

Will this change perceptions, the way these city regions function, and eventually, the flow of capital? Factored in with other uncertainties such as the Brexit countdown, there’s sure to be some weighty questions at the forums held throughout MIPIM week.