UAE’s Equitativa mulls REIT to buy school assets in India
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

UAE-based asset manager Equitativa Group is foraying into the Indian education sector through a real estate investment trust (REIT), which would look to acquire school assets.

Equitativa, the fund manager for Shariah-compliant and Nasdaq Dubai-listed Emirates REIT, currently manages three schools – Jebel Ali School, British Columbia Canadian School and Gems World Academy.

The company has appointed Nitin Agarwal as the chief executive officer for the Indian market. A banking and real estate veteran of 18 years, Agarwal used to lead Mumbai-based corporate finance practice, ICPL, which focused on real estate and mezzanine finance.

“We continue to believe in the strategic importance of the education sector in the development of any country. India, given its demographics, has a huge potential in the education sector and we hope to enter this market by acquiring schools to launch our first REIT here,” said Abdul Wahab Al-Halabi, chief investment officer, Equitativa Group.

“Nearly $50 billion is expected to be invested in the Indian education sector over the next 10 years, which the firm believes is a huge opportunity. We are already owning a few schools in Dubai and our experience is that the education sector has sparked the interest of many real estate investors. We have seen a similar interest in Indian as well as global investors for the sector here,” he added.

The company will also be exploring opportunities in the logistics and warehousing real estate sector. “It is one of the biggest growth areas that has emerged in recent times especially after the implementation of various reforms as well as the rapid growth of e-commerce,” said Al-Halabi.

Equitativa is currently the largest REIT manager in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries with about $2 billion of assets under management, the company said.

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