During the week of March 9th, thirteen first-year real estate MBA students traveled to Cannes, France to participate in MIPIM, the international real estate property and investment convention. For five days, over 20,000 real estate professionals, from all property types and investor classes, converged in Cannes to gauge the pulse of the current market trends, pitch their home city or country to investors, and network with their peers. This marks the tenth year that graduate students from the Graaskamp Center have participated in the conference by assisting at the annual “RE–Invest” summit, conducting an annual trends survey, and meeting with industry professionals.
Our week began in full force, as we acted as scribes for the “RE-Invest” Summit, a closed-door event which brings sovereign wealth, pension funds, insurance companies and endowments together to discuss the key issues affecting the market. This year, the themes covered were “Geography: Are investors too far ahead of fundamentals”; “Sector: Twenty years on, which sectors have been most impacted by the internet”; and “Strategy: Investing in a turbulent world.” The chance to converse with market makers from around the globe and listen to their views on cyclical risks and emerging markets was truly amazing.
In addition to the “RE-Invest” event, the group met one-on-one with several companies including USAA, Tristan Capital Partners, Heitman, Deutsche Bank Asset Management, DLA Piper, AEW, Dahlstrom Real Estate Advisors, Pembroke Real Estate, BIG, Aerium Finance, and TIAA Henderson. Brad Olsen, Principal of Atlantic Partners, a long supporter of the Graaskamp and veteran at MIPIM, kindly coordinated several meetings and social events.
For the second year in a row, the students enjoyed a wonderful dinner on the beach at the “German Lounge,” hosted by Olaf Hutten with Hutten Real Solutions. The “German Lounge”, a two-day event aimed to foster networking among German investors and clients. It was a great opportunity for us to network with major players and discuss the German market, one of the hottest markets highlighted at MIPIM.
We also were fortunate to meet with several UW alum including Paul Dittmann (MS ’97), Hans Vrensen (MS ’91), and Adam Cibik (MBA ’07). Paul Dittman, Head of the Senior Commercial Mortgage Group at M&G Investments, kicked off our first night in MIPIM with an overview of the key European institutional players from a debt perspective. Hans Vrensen, formerly of DTZ research, spoke to the group regarding the recent increase in leverage levels which appeared to mimic pre-2007 highs. Lastly, Adam Cibik, a portfolio manager at the Employees Retirement System of Texas, shared his institutional view on the growing concern surrounding the currency risk of the dollar and Euro, as well as the ever looming rise in interest rates.
One of the highlights of the conference was the “MIPIM Wrap-Up Panel,” moderated by UW-Madison Real Estate Professor Erwan Quintin. The session covered the results of the annual participant’s survey as well as the overall sentiments from the MIPIM Conference. The key “take-aways” included: positive investor outlook on real estate in 2015, mixed concern regarding currency and interest rate risk and a persistent search for yield in Europe – particularly in London, Germany and southern Europe. Overall, MIPIM was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the first-year MBA students and continues to be a wonderful tradition for the Graaskamp Center for Real Estate.
Participants include Zi Chong, Megan Clower, Ashleigh Coaxum, Jonathan Davis, Fernando Escobar, Scott Gibbel, Jeffrey Grabowski, Brittany Harrison, Amelia Hetfield, Mitchell Jung, Regan Kennedy, Michael Ullman, Christopher Van Mullem. We would like to thank Professors Joe Walsh and Erwan Quintin for their unwavering support during this amazing trip.