UK: Student housing provider Unite Group sells eight properties for $183 million – ET RealEstate

BENGALURU: Unite Group said on Tuesday it had sold eight properties for 133 million pounds ($183.15 million) to Aventicum Real Estate, as the British student housing provider turns its focus to high- and mid-tier universities.

Unite, which reported a wider 2020 pre-tax loss of 120 million pounds earlier this month, had said it was targeting 200-300 million pounds worth of asset disposal in 2021 in the hopes of improving liquidity position.

“This (disposal) is in line with Unite’s stated strategy of aligning to high and mid-tier universities where demand is highest,” the company said on Tuesday.

The latest disposal, which comprises 2,284 beds, includes assets in Coventry, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Exeter and Manchester, with only the sale of the Manchester property yet to be finished and that is expected in the second half of 2021.

Unite’s Chief Executive Officer Richard Smith said the sale of the eight properties would help the company achieve its operating profit margin target of 74% by 2023 end.

Earlier this month, Unite forecast a return to full occupancy and rental growth in the upcoming academic year, saying students were keen to get back to campus life.

Unite’s shares were up 1.7% at 1,088 pence, as of 0926 GMT.

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Unite Group sees more student housing cancellations as UK coronavirus cases rise – ET RealEstate

BENGALURU: Student housing provider Unite Group said on Thursday there were more than usual cancellations in recent weeks following a rise in coronavirus cases in Britain, leading to occupancy falling short of its 90% target.

The company, which provides homes to 74,000 students across 177 properties in 27 university towns and cities, however, held out hope for increased sales from January from students opting to move into properties with short-hold tenancy agreements.

Schools and universities in Britain started reopening last month after the COVID-19 pandemic had forced their closure since March, resulting in students giving up their campus stay to move back home during the health crisis.

“While recognising that this is an evolving situation, all of our buildings remain open with a range of independently assessed COVID-19-secure measures in place,” Unite Students CEO Richard Smith said.

The company said it still expected rental income, comprising of direct lets to students and leases to universities and commercial tenants, to fall between 10% and 20% for the 2020/21 academic year as it had to forgo rents for those students who returned to their homes for the summer semester.

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