MIPIM 2024: ‘Cautious optimism’ the key phrase as markets foresee the upturn

Views from Cannes:

Another March and another MIPIM is wrapped up. Real FDI editor Courtney Fingar and Real Asset Media’s Richard Betts gave us their reactions to this year’s event.

At last year’s MIPIM, delegates were “very jittery” for reasons including interest rates and war, said Fingar. “While there’s still a lot of concerns in the investor community, things have moved on a little bit and there’s maybe more cautious optimism, although people are very much in a wait-and-see mode, especially about interest rates.”

The picture in the foreign direct investment (FDI) world is similar, despite the surprise of a 3% rise in FDI flows in 2023 when a decline had been expected. A number of FDI projects had a notable presence in Cannes this year, particularly from the MENA region such as: Egypt’s Administrative Capital Urban Development project; several Saudi Arabian pavilions; new entrant Oman; Qatar; and even Iraq’s Minister of Housing & Construction.

One common thread among these and many other exhibitors, particularly from Europe, was the importance of housing.

“Cities that have been successful at attracting FDI, like Eindhoven, now find the downside of that success is they have nowhere to put these, tech workers in their case, that they’ve attracted,” said Fingar. Other sectors in focus were logistics and senior living for example in CEE and Spain where demographics are changing the market.

Iceland’s First Lady led that country’s delegation and the FDI projects which it is promoting.

“Relative to the country’s size, they have some very significant projects going on,” said Fingar. Iceland too has a major need for housing after its surprise mini population boom. Meanwhile the large mixed-use developments centred on the airport will provide a range of opportunities for overseas players.

There were projects on show in the French capital and Choose Paris was a notable presence with projects to promote in Olympics year and the next phase of the Val d’Europe project was also showcased.

One way that the show was characterised was as a “waiting MIPIM” said Betts. “People were waiting for something to happen,” he said. “Discussions centred on where we are in the curve at the moment? Has the market reached the bottom yet? We are told it is on its way up, but there is a sense that if you wait until it’s gone up, you’ll be too late.”