Welcoming the arrival of the red and yellow jerseys!

Following a gruelling ride, the Cycle to Cannes gang rode to the Palais forecourt victorious on Tuesday afternoon and were met by Edward Lister, Deputy Mayor of London. As the riders lined up to receive their medals, I collared Malcolm Ellis, MD of ride sponsor Aedas’ UK division, and Matt Mason, Executive Director for “Gherkin”-owner, IVG, to find out more about their views on MIPIM, cycling and the challenges facing the real estate industry. Coming from two very different parts of the property value chain – building and asset management – they offer two unique perspectives on the world’s real estate show.

Joanne: So, why do you come to MIPIM?

Malcolm: We come to MIPIM because it’s a great forum to meet a broad range of people across the construction industry, both public and private. It’s a focused event and takes place over a short period of time, so it’s a great opportunity to make new contacts and develop existing ones. It’s also the perfect place to get a sense of what’s happening across the industry. This year, we are interested in developing our work in design innovation. Our most important recent projects, Al Bahr Towers, Abu Dhabi for ADIC, West Kowloon Terminus in Hong Kong, (the largest below-ground terminal in the world ), Holland Park School, and the London Dubai Metro – the first metro in the middle east are all excellent examples of great  design innovation.

Matt: I have to agree: I go to MIPIM for the networking. You can always find new and interesting information and take the temperature for the industry as a whole. People divulge more in the relaxed atmosphere of MIPIM. It’s the single most important collection of investors and property professionals in the world. It’s the most important marketplace we have because it is so international and has a good reach. That said, for me, the cycle is as much about networking as MIPIM is!

Joanne: So, you cycle to make contacts?

Matt: Well, I’ve been doing it since 2006 – I was actually one of original 17 riders. As well as the charity aspect, it’s also a unique networking opportunity. We spend six days together, and the ride is a real leveller. A slightly older senior executive fund manager might find himself riding beside a younger, more inexperienced architect, for example. In business circles, those two people might never meet, but on the ride it might be the more junior person helping the more senior along the way. You really get to know people you wouldn’t normally get to talk to!

Malcolm: My company started sponsoring the ride over three years ago, and since health problems at the time stopped me from participating, I was thrilled to ride for the first time this year. I’m a person who likes a challenge both in business and in “extra-curricular” activities, so I was really excited, if a little nervous. I spent about nine weeks training and riding in cold weather. Everyone who took part deserves their medal!

Joanne: What big trends to do expect to see at MIPIM this year?

Malcolm: Well, for me, the big trend is building information management (BIM). In the past, we designed buildings using auto-CAD, with 2D models. BIM is now a 3D model, used from the outset of project right through to construction, maintenance and refurbishment. It is having and will continue to have a major influence on the business and anyone involved in the building process. It allows us to design more efficiently and allows contractors to build building more effectively. It will help managers run buildings more efficiently.

Matt: On the fund side, my view is that the big discussion at MIPIM this year will be debt funds. We can’t get away from the fact that there is a lack of banks lending money, so we need to find new ways of financing property and property products. AXA have just raised a huge amount for their debt fund. Debt funds offer a stable return and relatively low risk. They are backed by people with property knowledge – you’ve really got the right people lending the money. Plus if ever there is a problem, you have the property expertise to deal with that. Furthermore, funds don’t have quite the same regulatory structure as banks so they can be more flexible and responsive.

Well done to everyone who took part in Cycle to Cannes, and for the rest of us, don’t forget you can still donate! Two-thirds of the estimated £220,000 raised will support the UK’s first children’s charity, Coram, with the rest of the money supporting charities Article 25, Tom’s Trust, Multiple System Atrophy Trust and Emthonjeni Trust.

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