MARCH 30, 2016 – The following article featured in the Australian Financial Review (subscription needed).

Former Mirvac head of capital Jonathan Hannam has teamed up with former Mallesons lawyer and Aura Funds Management founder Avi Naidu to set up new property investment firm Taronga Group, kicking it off with the launch of a new fund, Real Tech.

The Taronga-managed fund will invest in real estate-related innovation and technology companies such as property crowdfunder VentureCrowd and international groups such as New York-based commercial leasing software Hightower.

The fund, which is opened to institutional investors although it may be opened to high net worth individuals, is seeking to raise $50 million.

“How we buy, build, manage and interact with the built environment is changing rapidly due to technology,” Mr Naidu said.

“Traditional models are being turned on their head and traditional owners are seeing value eroding in different parts of their portfolios.”

ASIA AND MIDDLE EAST

The pair are looking for investors from their two focus regions – Asia and the Middle East – and have already approached some of the world’s largest players in real estate, such as major developers, banks and utilities.

“The strong interest of Asian investors in all things real estate has naturally extended into investments in technologies that have the potential to transform the real estate sector,” Mr Hannam said.

The fund will tap into many real estate technology businesses not easily created inhouse by traditional property groups.

“The internal innovation problem faced by major real estate related institutions provided the impetus for the development of Taronga Venture’s Ecosystem approach beyond just a fund,” Mr Hannam said.

“Building an internal venturing solution from scratch is not a viable option for most corporates.

“For institutional investors it assists with greater visibility of emerging threats and identifying potential opportunities that are inherent in the technology-led evolution of the real estate sector.”

Advisors on the fund include former Abu Dhabi Investment Authority chief investment officer in real estate Mark Burton, former NSW Liberal opposition leader Kerry Chikarovski and current non-executive director of Ardent Leisure and Mantra Group Melanie Willis.

Taronga Group, which will have a main focus on technology and real estate, will also look at sporting and entertainment investments.

It will also provide advice and manage large direct property projects, and have a traditional property funds management arm.

The group already has a high profile advisory gig – it is the strategic adviser to Hong Kong developer Forise Investments’ 88-level mixed-use tower at Surfers Paradise. The project is worth more than $1 billion.

Real Tech is SIV compliant.

END