Aldar to invest in European PropTech fund run by venture capital firm Fifth Wall

The developer is seeking exposure to technology driving change in the property market

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 15, 2021.  Stock Images, Aldar Headquarters, Al Bandar on a cold morning.
Victor Besa/The National
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Aldar Properties is partnering with US venture capital firm Fifth Wall to invest in a fund focused on supporting property technology start-ups in Europe.

Through the investment, Aldar plans to tap into Fifth Wall's network of PropTech start-ups in Europe and "gain access to the latest technology and trends that are driving the evolution of the real estate sector", the developer said on Monday.

Aldar is the UAE’s biggest listed developer with a market capitalisation of more than Dh27.75 billion ($7.5bn).

The company recently revamped its business and adopted a new operating model with a parent company overseeing its core development and investment businesses.

This included the creation of an Aldar Ventures unit.

“Our investment in Fifth Wall marks the next phase of our innovation journey and will allow us to keep pace with the advancements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Maan Al Awlaqi, Aldar’s executive director of strategy and transformation.

“The fund provides us with access to global knowledge and solutions that will complement our investments in regional start-ups and established in-house innovation programmes.”

Fifth Wall is a California-based venture capital company set up in 2016 that specialises in PropTech investment. It currently has about $1.7bn in commitments and capital under management.

It has already secured commitments from other backers for the European Fund, which has a target size of €100 million ($120.2m).

Aldar Properties is the fund's first partner from the Middle East. Other investors include consultancy Knight Frank, BNP Paribas and property fund manager Redevco.

Aldar's partnership with Fifth Wall is expected to add to the company's existing in investment portfolio and initiatives that are focused on promoting innovation and technology in the property and retail sectors.

The company has established an innovation office to provide start-ups and innovators with access to its businesses.

It also manages a programme called Scale Up that is focused on developing the PropTech sector in the UAE, as well as the Manassah programme, an incubator programme aimed at nurturing retail technology start-ups and entrepreneurial talent in the Gulf.

"We believe that the new partnership will help Aldar to further drive digital transformation, enhance customer experience and embed more sustainable practices," said Mr Al Awlaqi.