Singapore’s SPH acquires more student housing assets in UK for $546m

Millennium Bridge, London, United Kingdom. Photo: Jonathan Chng

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) announced that it has acquired a portfolio of high-quality student accommodation assets in the UK for about $546 million from Student Castle Investment Holdco Ltd.

The acquisition, which was carried out by SPH’s subsidiary, Straits Ten Pte Ltd, involved 2,383 beds of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA), raising the company’s total portfolio to 7,726 beds.

SPH’s student housing assets in Europe span 18 cities in the UK and Germany. The new acquisition expands its footprint across seven new UK cities – Cambridge, Oxford, Bath, Brighton, Durham, Edinburgh, and York.

About 84 per cent of the beds are close to top-ranked and Russell Group universities, including the world-renowned University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.

In a disclosure to the Singapore Exchange, SPH said the deal involves an initial cash consideration of 411 million pounds ($546 million) for the portfolio.

The estimated construction costs to complete the development of the assets to be paid progressively until completion are approximately 37 million pounds ($48 million).

Based on the Cushman & Wakefield valuation report, the aggregate market value of the assets as at 31 October 2019 is 448 million pounds ($583 million), on the assumption that the development assets have been completed and are operational.

“The acquisition is in line with the company’s strategy of acquiring purpose-built student accommodation assets that complement our existing portfolio,” SPH said.

Two of the seven assets are under development. The five operational assets have an average age of 2.6 years and have consistently enjoyed close to full occupancy. The assets are operated and managed by Student Castle Limited, a subsidiary of the seller.

Student Castle Portfolio

The acquisition also comes as the fundamentals of the student accommodation sector in the UK remain well-supported by positive secular trends in the domestic 18-year-old population, positive government policies to grow the number of foreign students, and a record number of international students from outside Europe.

The acquisition also includes the Student Castle operating paltform, comprising its brand, its proprietary booking system, and its employees, SPH said.

In April, SPH entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Habitus Holdings, Privilege Holdings, Privilege Southampton Holdings, and AIGGRE Europe Real Estate Fund I GP for the acquisition of $174.3 million worth of student housing assets in the UK.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.