Currently the annual MIPIM is taking place in Cannes. Twelve months ago housing rights groups for the first time raised their voice to protest against this international real estate fair. “25 years of Mipimism is enough” they stated. Half a year later people in London took the slogan and delayed the opening of the MIPIM UK. Then some transnational actions against the sell-out of housing to mutinational funds followed. “This year we will leave the Mipimists alone with their oysters, champagne, yachts and security guards in Cannes”, activists from the network stated. “This is the exclusive world they are creating for themselves, but they should not get too comfortable in their pop-up gated community. Our struggle is everywhere, and it is becoming more and more connected.” In the next days we’ll try to give examples how.
From the point of view of the Tenants Association of Witten (Ruhr, Germany) we can very much welcome the actions of today in Barcelone, New York City and San Francisco, which protested against the housing business of Blackstone, one of the largest private equity firms worldwide.
In our region since the last decade we had to learn that the business models of companies like Blackstone are creating social and physical damage in our cities. They do not only rob former publicly controlled and financed social housing stocks from the people and trsform into merchandises at liberalized property markets. They are also transforming the whole social infrastructure of peoples housing into a playground for transnational financial speculations. This creates heavy damage for our cities and daily life. Rent increases, uncontrolled mortgage bubbles, systemic material disinvestments, precarious working conditions for the employees, bad maintenance and value stripped housing companies are the necessary consequence of a “financial industry”, which is using the (expected) cash flows from rents and mortgage interest for the construction of speculative financial “products”, offered globally to wealthy people and financial funds.
Rental mass housing in Germany has been heavily affected by sell outs to transnational private equity funds since 2000. Among the actors of the transaction chains were also Blackstone funds (Bremen, Berlin, Mannheim). But – following its opportunistic business model – the “engagements” of Blackstone in these investments only were short term and Blackstone in general did not play a major role in it compared to other financial investors like TerraFirma (UK based), Fortress (US) , GoldmanSachs, MorganStanley, Cerberus… In Germany more than 1 million former social rental housing units through state promoted privatisations and transaction processes got under direct control of transnational financial markets. After exits of the funds during the past 2 years today most of the financial investments in German housing assets meanwhile is organized via publicly listed joint stock companies. Among major shareholders are sovereign wealth funds from Norway and Abu Dhabi but also funds managed by big investment companies like Landsowne (hedge funds), SunLife (secrurities and funds), Wellington and Blackrock, which actually is a former spin off from Blackstone, today with more the 4000 bn. USD assets under management. Because of all the liquid capital seeking for good “performance“ (halfway secure and a profitable assets) the international speculative business of the new real estate joint stock companies in Germany is booming. The market capitalization of the largest stock companies has nearly doubled within 18 months. A very fast concentration process is going on in this sector, creating i.e. a housing stock company with more than 350.000 units… In our towns in the Ruhr district 10 – 20 % of the rental housing stock is directly controlled by joint stock companies and financial investors. As tenant unions we are permanently struggling with them.
From this background we feel very related to the actions of today, although we are not specifically faced to Blackstone as a direct financial investor into our landlord firms at the moment.
We think the today action has been one of the first coordinated transnational actions against Real Estate Private Equity at this scale.
Even if the main struggle is about reclaiming social control on the housing stocks at the local grass roots through its users, although the main solution is the expropriation of the housing-capitalists and the socialisation of the whole housing system, it is also important to take more action steps at transnational levels. Becoming able to blame the wrong system at the real stage of its transnational development may be a precondition for the invention of non-nationalist, non-exclusive answers to the global crisis of hosuing and cities. We hope that transnational activism against transnational financial landlords and mortgage speculators continues, enlarges and that we may learn to organize strategically, so that one day transnational corporate action can become one of our daily tools in the defence of the right of tenants and homeless and mortgage victims at many places.
Blackstone is one of the largest private equity firms world wide. It also is used to “invest” the money it collects into speculation with housing and mortgage in many countries, the U.S., Spain, Germany forinstance. Recently it bought up parts of the publicly bailed out Catalunya Bank. People from the orgnaization of those affected by mortgage (PAH) in Barcelona as well as groups in New York City and San Francisco did some parallel action of protest.
See the PAH movie and statement:
Blackstone, the world’s largest real estate private equity fund bought part of , a Spanish financial institution that received 12 billion euros ($15.4 billion) of taxpayers’ money as a bail out. Blackstone buys non-performing loans at huge discounts but these loans are actually families, families who have lost their jobs and are now about to be evicted from their homes. Everyday citizens receive no aid or solutions to social problems while global financial billionaires profit from bailed out banks. For PAH activists this is abusive and unjust to all citizens. These homes belong to people not to financial profiteers. Foreclosures and evictions are rapidly escalating in Spain under Blackstone’s pressure, but the PAH has a message: this is a global fight for the right to housing, we won’t stop, and we will win. Si Se Puede
MIPIM, the world’s biggest property fair, is coming to London, October 15-17th.
MIPIM proudly describes itself as the world’s largest property fair, attracting around 20,000 investors, developers, local authorities, and banks each year.
It usually takes place annually in Cannes, France. This year will see the first MIPIM UK, to be held at London’s Olympia 15-17 October. Billed as ‘the 1st UK property trade show gathering all professionals looking to close deals in the UK property market’ – a gathering of professionals and elites looking to profiteer from UK land and property.
Join affected communities, the Radical Housing Network, the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City, Defend Council Housing, trade unions and a range of other groups to demand a City for People, not for Profit.
MIPIM UK: 15 – 17 October, Olympia W14 8UX Opening protest – #blockBoris: Wednesday 15 October from 9am
Alternative conference Cities for People, Not for Profit: Thursday 16th and Friday 17th until 4pm Closing protest – Paper round the Houses: Friday 17 October from 5pm
The MIPIM trade fair is the world’s largest property trade fair. For the first time London will be hosting the event (normally held in Cannes) with an opening address from our mayor, Boris Johnson.
Given the estimated 340,000 households on the housing waiting list across London, the steady rise in homelessness rates and emergency housing in B&Bs and hostels (often for families and vulnerable individuals) it is clear we need truly affordable social housing and effective regulation of the private rental market.
Instead of our politicians looking into a sustainable housing sector, we get the mayor opening MIPIM, with many councils keen to strike up lucrative deals with property developers. MIPIM will be a place to discuss further profiteering from the capital’s housing market, including some great talks such as “Social Housing: What’s the point?” and “NHS Restructuring: Opportunities for the Property Industry”.
The “London Radical Housing Network” supported by international activists who try to build a “European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing an the City” have called for transnational action and meetings at the occasion of the real estate fair “MIPIM UK” in October (17th – 2oth). Here is their call in it’s 29th August version.
At 8th May the Platform of Citizens Affected by Mortgages (PAH) presented a new campaign to reclaim solutions to the dramatic housing crisis: The PAH plans to hold peaceful demonstrations (“escraches”) in electoral events during the European Parliament elections campaign.