UAE’s biggest bank to launch $300m fund

The National Bank of Abu Dhabi is opening up a Middle Eastern property fund to global financial investors, having received a commitment from the Gulf Investment Corporation.

The biggest bank in the United Arab Emirates has designs on a $300 million property fund targeting opportunities in the region on behalf of global and regional institutional investors.

The National Bank of Abu Dhabi told PERE it had received backing from the Gulf Investment Corporation for the fund, which has a plan to assemble assets and then exit via an initial public offering. The initial public offering, which is dependent upon capital market conditions at the time, could lead to the creation of the region’s first publicly-traded REIT.

Zain Abdullah, who has been appointed senior executive officer at newly launched NBAD Investment Management, which is the advisory arm for the fund, said: “Real estate is an important alternative asset class for investors globally. We believe that this fund will offer regional and institutional investors a diversified avenue to access the UAE real estate market within a strong regulatory environment.” He added that the fund would concentrate on commercial and logistics infrastructure assets.

The seed investor – Gulf Investment Corporation, or GIC for short – is a pan-Gulf Cooperation Council company owned by the six GCC countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It is unclear how much the organisation has committed to the vehicle, which is being structured as a private closed-ended fund in line with other traditional private equity real estate funds.

Knight Frank, the property services firm, is acting as real estate advisor to the fund. James Lewis, director of investors at the firm’s Abu Dhabi office, said the strategy was to invest in “best-in-class” commercial real estate assets occupied by international tenants on longer than average leases.

NBAD Investment Management has been specially created for the purpose of managing funds for the National Bank of Abu Dhabi and received authorisation by the Dubai Financial Services Authority just weeks ago.