Listing of student accommodation assets a 'possibility', says SPH

Exterior view of Student Castle York. The acquisition of seven assets in the UK last December increases SPH's presence in cities where the supply of student housing is limited. PHOTO: SPH
Exterior view of Student Castle York. The acquisition of seven assets in the UK last December increases SPH's presence in cities where the supply of student housing is limited. PHOTO: SPH

Listing its purpose-built student accommodation assets is a "possibility", among other opportunities it seeks to improve shareholder value, said Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) yesterday.

Its statement came after Bloomberg - citing sources close to the matter - reported that SPH is planning to list those UK-based assets in Singapore through a real estate investment trust, in a deal that would value those properties at more than US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion).

According to the sources, the plans are still at preliminary stages and the exact size and timing of the transaction have yet to be finalised.

Referring to the media reports, SPH said: "The company is always considering and looking out for opportunities to improve shareholder value, including the possibility of listing its PBSA (purpose-built student accommodation) assets, to achieve its corporate objectives."

SPH, which publishes The Straits Times, will make an announcement if there is any material development on this matter, it added.

In December, SPH, expanded its purpose-built student accommodation portfolio with the acquisition of seven assets in the United Kingdom for £411 million (S$720 million).

This brings the total number of beds in SPH's portfolio to 7,726 across 18 cities in the UK and Germany.

With this Student Castle portfolio, SPH expands its footprint across seven additional UK cities: Cambridge, Oxford, Bath, Brighton, Durham, Edinburgh and York.

The transaction more than doubled the assets under management to $1.5 billion, SPH had said.

Demand for purpose-built student accommodation is expected to remain strong for the next decade - the UK's 18-year-old population is tipped to grow by an average rate of 2 per cent annually between this year and 2030.

In December, SPH, expanded its purpose-built student accommodation portfolio with the acquisition of seven assets in the United Kingdom for £411 million (S$720 million). This brings the total number of beds in SPH's portfolio to 7,726 across 18 cities in the UK and Germany.

The UK Department of Education is also aiming to boost the number of international students in the country by 30 per cent to 600,000 by 2030, through incentives such as visa extensions for international students seeking post-study work.

SPH shares closed up 0.5 per cent at $2.01 yesterday.

THE BUSINESS TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2020, with the headline 'Listing of student accommodation assets a 'possibility', says SPH'. Print Edition | Subscribe