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Dubai-based GSA in $900m UK student accommodation deal

Dubai-based student accommodation provider Global Student Accommodation (GSA) and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC have bought a $900 million (£700m) portfolio of UK student accommodation.

The acquisition of the 7,150-bed portfolio from Oaktree Capital Management is the UK’s largest student accommodation deal so far this year, according to GSA.

The portfolio, which has been built within the last three years, includes 3,634 operational beds across nine purpose-built student accommodation properties located in six top university cities: Liverpool, Bristol, London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Southampton.

The deal also includes a pipeline of 3,516 beds in five cities: Plymouth, Portsmouth, Birmingham, Bournemouth and Cambridge, which GSA said it will rapidly bring on stream over the next 30 months.

GSA said it has also acquired the operating platform of The Student Housing Company, which manages purpose-built student accommodation in the UK, from Threesixty Developments. This will be the brand the student accommodation halls will be operated under.

“I am very pleased to renew a longstanding relationship with GIC and announce our partnership,” said Nicholas Porter, founder and chairman of GSA.

“This top quality portfolio will give GSA a stronger foothold in the UK market, where the high demand for university places continues to drive the need for well-managed, purpose built accommodation. The Student Housing Company brand will come into the GSA family, alongside our Asian and European student brand Uninest, allowing us to pioneer the management of multiple brands under one umbrella.”

Madeleine Cosgrave, regional head, Europe, GIC Real Estate, aded: “GIC is pleased to partner GSA, which is among the leading developers and operators of student housing globally. The high-quality assets are located close to university campuses and city centres. As a long-term value investor, we believe student accommodation will be a sector that continues to deliver steady rental growth and resilient income returns amidst a challenging, low-yield environment.”

GSA’s advisers on the transaction were Nabarro and PWC.

GSA has nine offices around the world in Dublin, Bristol, London, Frankfurt, Dubai, Hong Kong, Beijing, Tokyo and Sydney.

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