What Subprime Crisis?

We've interviewed a dozen property investors at this year's MIPIM and I can't help wondering if we're really getting the full story.

Undoubtedly the subprime-induced credit crunch is making life difficult for many, but every single investor we've spoken to has cheerily told us that they're doing just fine thank you.

Have they had too much sun hanging out on the hundreds of yachts at this year’s MIPIM? Or have they all been smart enough to win through the turbulence.

Olivier Piani, president Europe for GE Real Estate, argues that the financial crisis still remains largely confined to the financials and hasn't undermined the fundamentals of the European property sector. He says an out and out recession would have an impact, but that's simply not the case yet.

So far so good. But many people are expecting recessions in several countries.

John Carrafiell, global head of real estate Investing at Morgan Stanley, concedes it will be another tricky year, but points out that most property investors have a 5 to 10 year view, in which case this is just a blip. And a blip that could serve him well. Carrafiell's company has made many of its best investments on the back of recessions when low prices provide a good buying opportunity.

And the debate over the resilience of the Asian economies to a US downturn resonates in the real estate market too.

At least one of the world's biggest pension funds has faith in Asia. Patrick Kanters, MD of global real estate for APG Investments, is moving more of his real-estate investments to the region, particularly Hong Kong and Australia.

Kanters also thinks the equity markets have battered the real-estate sector more than it deserves and sees a buying opportunity in UK listed property assets.

Of course the other thing about property is that investors don't have to rely on capital growth the see returns. With good old fashioned asset management investors can up the rental value of their assets. And that's a strategy that Rickard Backlund, CEO of Aberdeen Asset Management, is looking toward to help him through a period when he expects flat property prices in many of his markets.

At last year's MIPIM the subprime crisis was just beginning. This year everyone is talking about when the credit crisis will end. But in the meantime the 30,000 delegates in Cannes are determined to carry on making money.

Whether it’s emerging Russia, nailing the bottom of the London market, buying up distressed assets or cashing in on the decoupling of Asia -- there are still opportunities out there for those who can finance them.

The test will be when it comes to next year's MIPIM. After another 12 months of tough markets will the property players still turn up in record numbers with their yachts, helicopters and private jets? Or will it all be a bit more modest?