(Adds analysis from property consultants)
ABU DHABI, April 17 (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi-based developer Aldar Properties plans more acquisitions as it sees opportunities in a slowing property market, its chief executive said on Tuesday. Late last year the Aldar bought an office tower in the emirate for 658 million dirhams ($179 million). Values and rentals have been falling in Abu Dhabi’s property market due to a slowing economy in the last two years. “We are seeing ample opportunities of new acquisitions in these market conditions in Abu Dhabi and elsewhere,” Talal al- Dhiyebi told Reuters at Cityscape Abu Dhabi, the property show.
Aldar will continue to invest in new projects as well as acquisitions, he said.
Last month, Emaar Properties and Aldar signed a joint venture agreement to develop local and international projects worth as much as 30 billion dirhams ($8.2 billion).
Aldar also expects to attract more retail and institutional investors after it recently increased foreign ownership in its stock to 49 percent from 40 percent.
“There’s been wide international demand from Europe, the U.S,” he said.
Aldar is also focusing on affordable housing, which is under-serviced, he said. “The bubble has gone out of pushing prices artificially. Today we have real investors, real demand and end-users,” he said.
Still, both the residential and commercial office market continue to see deflationary pressures due to weak demand and a cautious approach by many occupiers, two property consultants said on Tuesday. Average residential sale prices in the first quarter were down by 1 to 5 percent from a year earlier as secondary market transactions were hit by suppressed investor sentiment, consultancy CBRE said in a report. Rentals in Abu Dhabi were down by around 10 percent, it said. “Both commercial and residential leasing markets are expected to follow similar downward trajectories as the previous year, as new supply places further pressures on rentals and occupancy rates,” said CBRE.
Consultancy JLL also said the residential sector continued to soften in first quarter due to subdued demand and increased supply. ($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirham) (Reporting by Stanley Carvalho; editing by Jason Neely)