The operators await the starting signal (Berthon)

Master Romain Berthon.

Romain Berthon, business lawyer, gave us this interview to tell us about collaborative financing in Morocco. This specialist in real estate law, who has more than 10 years’ experience in this field, particularly in Africa, including Morocco, explains to us above all how collaborative financing can breathe new life into the Moroccan real estate market and insists on improving of the legal framework governing Crowdfunding.

Le Matin: How can crowdfunding breathe new life into the Moroccan real estate market?
Master Romain Berthon
: In Morocco, Crowdfunding (in French, collaborative financing) has been governed for a year now by Law No. 15-18 which allows and regulates the fundraising operation via an electronic collaborative financing platform. This platform connects project leaders and contributors for collaborative financing operations. Platforms can be lending, investment or donation platforms.
This legal status will certainly breathe new life into certain parts of the real estate market that lacked adequate financing. It can be residential, office or commercial rental property. Possibly, real estate development in complex projects or with promoters who do not meet the criteria of the banks.
Donations aside, these are investments that banks do not wish to support, not because the project would not be viable, but because their support standards would not be met: on the one hand handle, the amount to be invested would be too low and, on the other hand, the level of risk would not correspond to that which a bank is prepared to take.
There are real estate project leaders who cannot find their lenders, and investors who are looking for projects: collaborative financing will allow them to meet.

How many Crowdfunding platforms have been created since Law 15.18?
We are now in the infancy of this method of financing and we have no knowledge of the real estate platforms set up in Morocco. This is probably due to regulatory clarifications that still need to be improved.

Do you think that the relative failure of this launch is due to the conditions defined by law? What then would be the criteria to be modified?
As soon as the necessary clarifications on several subjects provided for by law are insufficient, there is no doubt that this mode of financing will meet with success.

Supervision and control of this activity by the central bank is somewhat atypical internationally. Is this an obstacle to development for you?
The Central Bank is involved in the supervision of platforms that provide loan services and the AMMC (Moroccan Capital Market Authority) is involved in those that provide investment services. This control is quite normal, because collaborative financing remains financing, an activity regulated by tradition, in order to provide its users with guarantees to ensure the necessary confidence of the market. Rather than a brake, it is a guarantee.

Has your firm been contacted for projects of this type?
We are regularly called upon to provide legal advice on this financing and on other methods of financing, mainly by clients wishing to create collaborative financing companies: they are in the starting blocks and are waiting for the starting signal. In concrete terms, these are regulatory clarifications.

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Organic
Romain Berthon is a partner at LPA-CGR avocats in the Paris and Casablanca offices. He mainly works in real estate law. He has more than 10 years’ experience in this field, particularly in Africa, where he has already worked in several countries: Algeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Nigeria and Senegal.
Its clientele – owners, users or real estate professionals – is institutional. It works on a variety of assets: offices, shopping centres, clinics, building complexes, schools, hotels, industries (automotive, aeronautics), residential, new towns, etc.
Based in Casablanca, he assists his clients in the structuring of operations until their implementation, from the acquisition of the land (or the owning company), to the design and construction of the building, to its marketing or operation.

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