Fast East Orchard Pays $72M for UK Student Housing Portfolio

The Singapore-based company acquired three student accommodation properties totaling 622 beds in Bristol and Liverpool as part of its strategy to expand in university cities with large student populations.
The Glassworks Liverpool

Far East Orchard has acquired a three-property student housing portfolio totaling 622 beds in the U.K., in a deal valued at $72.3 million. The transaction expands the company’s presence in the U.K. to nearly 2,100 beds in eight properties.

The properties consisted of the 133-bed Harbour Court and the 166-bed St Lawrence House in Bristol, and the 323-bed Glassworks in Liverpool.

“Since our entry into the U.K. student accommodation sector in 2015 via the acquisition of a portfolio of properties and land sites for development in Newcastle upon Tyne, we have expanded into three other cities—Brighton, Bristol and Liverpool,” Lui Chong Chee, Far East Orchard’s group managing director & CEO, said in prepared remarks. “Our latest acquisition of three stabilized properties in established U.K. university cities is part of our strategy to enlarge our recurring income base, thereby reinforcing the Group’s resilience.” 

The five-story Harbour Court and the 11-story St. Lawrence House are both is situated nearby the University of Bristol, while the 8-story Glassworks property is nearby Liverpool John Moores University.

All three assets possess strong occupancy levels, buoyed by favorable supply-demand dynamics and their proximities to both campuses and city centers. Each property will be managed by the facility manager of the company’s existing student accommodation portfolio in Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K. 

Strong Demand

Savills’ latest U.K. market report classified Bristol as a first-class location for student accommodation development. Meanwhile, Liverpool, which is home to four higher-education institutions, is considered one of the largest university cities in the country.

“We are confident of the long-term fundamentals of the U.K. student accommodation market and remain on the lookout for opportunities to grow our student accommodation portfolio,” Lui said. “In line with our strategy to grow our recurring income base, we remain on target to grow our student accommodation portfolio to 3,000 beds by 2023.”

Far East Orchard’s portfolio now consists of 2,091 PBSA (purpose-built student accommodation) beds across eight properties in the U.K. 

Earlier this month, a joint venture between Europa Capital and Generation Student raised $132 million for its Europa Generation student housing fund following the new capital raising, with a total of $396 million. The fund, established in 2017, focuses on student housing in the U.K. and currently has $238 million in assets under management. 

Image courtesy of Far East Orchard