Singapore Press Holdings acquires UK student housing portfolio for $233m

Singapore Press Holdings
Theatres on the Bay, Singapore. Photo: Sebastian Pichler/Unsplash

Media and property conglomerate Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPH) on Monday announced that it has acquired a portfolio of student accommodation in the United Kingdom for £180.5 million (about $233 million).

SPH’s wholly-owned subsidiaries will acquire the portfolio, comprising 14 building across six towns and cities in the UK with a total capacity of 3,436 beds, from Unite Group PLC in cash. The transaction is expected to be completed around September 13.

“This cash-yielding acquisition will generate recurring cash flow, and is part of our ongoing strategy to diversify our business to new growth areas,” said SPH Chief Executive Officer Ng Yat Chug.

In a disclosure to the Singapore Exchange on Monday, SPH said, the properties it is acquiring include 10 freehold assets and four leasehold assets. The properties include the 767-bed Central Quay in Sheffield, the 427-bed Snow Island in Huddersfield, and the 378-bed Saw Mill also in Huddersfield.

These properties are located in established university town and cities with large full-time student populations, including London, Birmingham, Bristol, Huddersfield, Plymouth, and Sheffield.

The acquisition, which will be carried out by Straits One (Jersey) Limited, Straits Two (Jersey) Limited, and Straits Three (Jersey) Limited, all wholly-owned subsidiaries of SPH, boosts the Singapore firm’s real estate asset management portfolio and comes at a time when the student accommodation in the UK presents growth potential.

According to a report cited by SPH, the student accommodation in the UK stands at the national average of 2.8 students each bed, with demand expected from both domestic and international students.

The demand is driven by an increase in first year, international, and post-graduate students enrolling for higher education in the UK, SPH added.

SPH has been seeking to diversify its revenue streams, which have seen it acquire a nursing home operator last year, as media is among the industries most disrupted by the transition to a digital economy.

SPH’s core business is publishing of newspapers, magazines, and books in both print and digital editions.

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