GIC buys UK student village in joint venture

GIC and Unite Students have bought Aston Student Village (above) for $403 million in a joint venture. The village comprises 3,067 beds across five properties on Aston University's campus in Birmingham.
GIC and Unite Students have bought Aston Student Village (left) for $403 million in a joint venture. The village comprises 3,067 beds across five properties on Aston University's campus in Birmingham.PHOTO: UNITE

Its 50:50 deal with British-based developer involves lodgings on Aston varsity campus

Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC has bought a student village at a Birmingham university for £227 million (S$403 million) in a 50:50 joint venture with British-based student accommodation developer and manager Unite Students.

The property, Aston Student Village, is the first major on-campus acquisition of Unite Students and GIC's London Student Accommodation Joint Venture, said the two parties in a statement yesterday.

The student village comprises 3,067 beds across five large properties on Aston University's campus in Birmingham. It is the only student accommodation on offer at Aston University, with no additional accommodation available either under direct ownership or through nominations agreements.

The university has a student population of 11,000.

The modern accommodation is fully occupied, said the statement.

Mr Richard Smith, chief executive of Unite Students, said: "Birmingham is one of the top cities for students and this acquisition demonstrates the value of our strong relationships with universities and also the benefit of our position as market leader, both by scale and efficiency and the service that we are able to offer to students.

"I look forward to strengthening our relationship with Aston University, working within the campus, helping to support their growth and providing their students with great accommodation and a service experience that will support their personal and academic achievements."

Ms Madeleine Cosgrave, regional head of Europe at GIC Real Estate, said: "Aston Student Village is a high-quality asset located both on campus and in the city centre.

"We are confident in the long- term growth potential of this asset and the student housing sector which we find attractive for its resilient income streams."

GIC has made a number of investments in Europe in recent months.

Last December, Hammerson said it would be selling 50 per cent of Watermark, a newly-opened 17,000 sq m leisure and dining development adjacent to the Westquay shopping centre in Southampton, to GIC for £48.5 million.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2017, with the headline 'GIC buys UK student village in joint venture'. Print Edition | Subscribe