European investor M7 expands into Middle East with Dubai office

The company currently manages about $978m of European property on behalf of region's investors

DIFC District. Courtesy Dubai International Financial Centre Authority
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M7 Real Estate, a pan-European investor and asset manager, has opened its first office in the Middle East, in the UAE, to capitalise on the continued strong demand for high-quality European real estate from investors in the region.

The company opened its office at the Dubai International Financial Centre following the receipt of financial services authorisation from the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) last month, M7 Real Estate said in a statement on Thursday.

M7, which is owned by Oxford Properties, already manages around €1 billion ($978 million) of European property on behalf of Middle Eastern investors, representing about 20 per cent of the company's assets under management. Its clients include sovereign wealth funds from the region.

“While we already have a strong track record of investing into Europe on behalf of select Middle Eastern clients, the opening of our UAE office and the granting of our DFSA licence will allow us to both access new types of investors to grow our investor base and better service our existing clients,” said Richard Croft, executive chairman of M7 Real Estate.

After months of coronavirus pandemic-induced slowdown, Middle Eastern buyers are once again making moves in the international property market — snapping up some of Europe’s most valuable real estate, Barclays Private Bank said in July.

The easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions last year has seen many buyers from the UAE and Saudi Arabia now returning to these luxury enclaves in ever greater numbers — buoyed also by rising oil prices and a strengthened US dollar, it said.

Middle East investors are expected to snap up $1.5bn in UK commercial property in 2022, up 33 per cent compared to last year, amid easing of the pandemic-related restrictions, consultancy Knight Frank said in a report earlier this year.

Including the UAE, M7 currently has offices in 15 countries and territories including the UK, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary and Hong Kong, and others, as it continues to focus on expanding its operations following its acquisition by Oxford Properties last year.

Set up in 2009, M7 manages a portfolio of 580 assets comprising 47.3 million square feet of area with a capital value of €5.8bn. It invests across a variety of multi-tenanted asset classes in Europe.

The company said it has appointed Zaid Al Rawi, managing director for M7 Middle East and North Africa, to head the Dubai office.

“The current market environment is propelling investors in the Middle East to focus on higher quality investments and those with more visible cash flows," Mr Al Rawi said.

Updated: October 20, 2022, 9:53 AM