GREENWICH, CT - Starwood Capital Group, a leading global private investment firm, and Round Hill Capital, a leading European specialist real estate investment and asset management firm, announced that they have acquired, through a new joint venture involving controlled affiliates, an operational portfolio of six modern, purpose-built, premium student accommodation assets across the United Kingdom. As part of the transaction, the joint venture has also entered into a forward funding agreement for the acquisition of a development scheme in Newcastle. The total purchase price for the portfolio was approximately £120 million.
The direct-let properties are in central locations in top university cities across the U.K. The portfolio comprises high-specification assets with premium-quality communal areas and a total of 1,595 beds in a mixture of mainly large studios and ensuite bedrooms in cluster flats. The standing assets consist of The Haymarket in Edinburgh, Chestnut House in Cambridge, The Walls in Southampton, St James House in Glasgow and Union Square and Stepney Yard, both in Newcastle. The forward funded development in Newcastle is expected to be delivered in time for the 2018–19 academic year.
"Starwood Capital has an established platform of student housing in the U.S., with 6,855 beds under management, and based on our strong performance and track record, we are keen on expanding our footprint in this sector in the U.K.," said Zsolt Kohalmi, Head of European Acquisitions at Starwood Capital Group. "We are excited to work with Round Hill Capital and Nido as our partners on this investment, which boasts assets in superb locations and strong student markets that provide a high-quality offering to students. We believe that the U.K. is and will continue to be one of the top educational destinations for international students. We believe that student housing offers the potential for compelling risk-adjusted returns—based on a history of producing robust rental growth and maintaining high occupancy even amidst the last economic crisis—and we look forward to building on this transaction to establish a sizeable student housing platform in the U.K."
The portfolio will be optimised through active, hands-on management via Round Hill's well-established Nido Collection brand and operational platform for student accommodations. Round Hill has a successful track record of investing in and operating student accommodation assets, having acquired, built up and managed over 2,700 student housing beds. In 2015, Round Hill sold 2,378 beds to Greystar Real Estate Advisers in 2015 for £600 million.
"Round Hill has an established and successful investment track record and operational expertise in premium student accommodation in the U.K., and we are very pleased to make this acquisition through our new U.K. joint venture with Starwood Capital Group," said Michael Bickford, Founder and CEO of Round Hill Capital. "We look forward to actively managing and repositioning the portfolio and building a substantial premium student accommodation platform in partnership with Starwood Capital Group in key cities across the U.K. The demand for higher education in the U.K. is continuing to rise but the student housing market still suffers from structural supply constraints for high-specification properties in key university cities. Taken together with the sector's growing and stable cash flows and our proven Nido Collection brand and operating expertise, this acquisition provides a compelling investment opportunity."