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Fernando Escobar

MIPIM 2016: A Student’s Experience

by Fernando Escobar Tuesday, April 12, 2016

During the week of March 14, twelve 2nd year MBA students traveled to Cannes, France to once again participate in MIPIM, the international real estate property and investment convention. For four days, over 20,000 real estate professionals, from all property sectors and investor classes, converged in Cannes to discuss the pulse of the current market, pitch their home city or country to investors, and network with their peers. This marked the eleventh year that MBA students from the Graaskamp Center for Real Estate have participated in the conference.

What a truly wonderful event it was. To have the privilege to return to MIPIM, we also attended as 1st years, exceeded even my greatest expectations. As a graduate student, having access to some of the top real estate leaders, and learn their perspective on current market dynamics not only domestically, but globally is invaluable. This year 89 countries from across the globe were represented at MIPIM.

At the University of Wisconsin Graaskamp Center for Real Estate students have the unique opportunity to take part in MIPIM’s Real Estate Investor Summit. A closed-door event which brings sovereign wealth, pension funds, insurance companies and endowments together to discuss the key issues affecting the market. An event which the University of Wisconsin holds the distinction of being the only university in the world to be invited to attend. At “RE-Invest,” we heard from investment leaders from across the globe discuss where they are currently deploying capital and where they are avoiding. While we agreed to not attribute any comments to specific investors, the general consensus was that the market is at or close to at peak. As one national pension fund CIO put it, “it’s not really the time to invest, but it’s not the time to sell.”  That said, capitals flows are not slowing down, in fact there is a lot of “dry-powder” on the sidelines in search of core assets. We heard many times over current investor appetite for long-term, income producing assets in core markets, which regardless of place in the cycle offer liquidity.

In addition to the “RE-Invest” event, the group met one-on-one with several companies including Deutsche Bank Asset Management, Dahlstrom Real Estate Advisors, and Heitman. Brad Olsen, Principal of Atlantic Partners, a long supporter of the Graaskamp Center for Real Estate and veteran of MIPIM, kindly coordinated several meetings and social events.

For the third year in a row, the MBA students enjoyed a wonderful dinner on the waterfront at the “German Lounge,” hosted by Olaf Hutten with Hutten Real Solutions. The “German Lounge”, a two-day event aimed at fostering networking opportunities amongst 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 both this year and last. In fact, other than London and Paris, Berlin currently has the 3rd most cross-border capital coming into the city at over 20B in 2015.

Another highlight 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 takeaways included:  “cautious optimism” for real estate in 2016, uneasiness regarding Britain’s potential exit from the E.U., and the American Presidential election, specifically Trump. Overall, MIPIM is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, which second-year MBA students were fortunate enough to experience twice. Moving forward, MIPIM is now an experience for 2nd year MBA’s and a wonderful tradition for the Graaskamp Center for Real Estate.

Personally, I undoubtedly came away from the MIPIM conference a much more complete real estate professional than I went in. I am truly fortunate to have been able to attend the conference once again, as it provided a global perspective that is necessary in the continuously evolving landscape that is the real estate industry.

On behalf of the second year MBAs and Graaskamp Center, I’d like to express my deepest gratitude to Brad Olsen, Erwan Quintin, Joe Walsh, and Andra Ghent for coordinating and facilitating such a successful trip and learning experience.

MIPIM 2016