Curlew looks to solve Enigma with £600m student sale

Curlew Capital is to sell its Enigma student accommodation portfolio and has appointed Savills to find a buyer at an asking price thought to be around £600m.

The portfolio is made up of 15 assets, housing 5,407 beds across 12 cities including London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Bath. The portfolio also includes a consented 245-bed site.

The buildings are fully operational and have all been built or converted in the past three years.

James Hanmer, director in Savills’ residential capital markets team, said the sale represented a “significant” opportunity for investors to acquire operational scale through a portfolio of new assets.

The portfolio is forecast to generate £38.9m gross student income in 2017-18.

“These are strong-performing student accommodation properties located in excellent university cities across the UK,” said Hanmer. “Investment into student housing has become mainstream in the past few years and we are seeing interest from across the globe.”

Secure scale at speed

Last year, investors traded 68,000 student beds worth £4.5bn and 2017 is tipped to beat those figures, according to Savills. It expects £5.3bn of student units to be traded this year, representing 75,000 beds.

Savills said investors were willing to pay more for large portfolios of student property, which would allow them to secure scale at speed.

Over the summer months, several developers and investors unveiled plans to expand their student accommodation portfolios including Empiric Student Property and Cole Waterhouse.

Much of the money driving the market is coming from overseas investors. Savills’ research showed foreign investment grew from 35% of transactions in 2014 to 64% in 2016, with Singapore a dominant player. 

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