SPH buys up large chunk of student accomodation in UK for $321 million

Publisher Singapore Press Holdings has purchased a large chunk of the United Kingdom’s student accomodation assets for around $321 million, as the company attempts to diversify its investment portfolio “to new growth areas”.

The acquisition includes 14 buildings across London, Birmingham, Bristol, Huddersfield, Plymouth and Sheffield – with a total of more than 3,400 student accommodation units as part of the deal.

The announcement:

Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPH) today announced that it has, through its wholly-owned subsidiaries, Straits One (Jersey) Limited, Straits Two (Jersey) Limited and Straits Three (Jersey) Limited, entered into a sale and purchase agreement on 7 September 2018 to acquire a portfolio of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) in the U.K. from Unite Group PLC (Unite) for a cash consideration of approximately £180.5 million (approximately S$321 million).

The portfolio comprises 14 buildings across 6 towns and cities in the U.K. and has a total capacity of 3,436 beds for student accommodation. The properties include 10 freehold assets and 4 leasehold assets, and are situated in established university towns and cities with large full-time student populations, including London, Birmingham, Bristol, Huddersfield, Plymouth and Sheffield.

The student accommodation in the U.K., which stands at the national average of 2.8 students to each bed [2], presents growth potential [3], with demand expected from both domestic and international students. The rising demand for PBSA is driven by an increase in first year, international and postgraduate students [4] enrolling for higher education in the U.K. At the same time, in England, a record 27.9% of the 18-year-old population have been accepted for higher education this year [5], with enrolment projected to grow by 23.0% by 2030 [6].

Mr. Ng Yat Chung, Chief Executive Officer of SPH, said: “This cash-yielding acquisition will generate recurring cash flow, and is part of our ongoing strategy to diversify our business to new growth areas. It will boost our real estate asset management portfolio, establish us as an overseas owner of PBSA in the U.K, and allow us to pursue other growth opportunities in this sector.”

This transaction is expected to complete on or around 13 September 2018.


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