GSA enters US student accommodation market

GSA enters US student accommodation market

Purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) firm Global Student Accommodation Group (GSA) has entered the US market, the world’s largest PBSA market, through the acquisition of twenty seven properties from UCAL, the joint venture with University Communities LLC (University Communities) and the California State Teachers Retirement Fund (CalSTRS).

The portfolio comprises 8,000 beds across 19 cities and 18 states from coast to coast in the US. Purchase price was not disclosed.

GSA has also acquired the property management company (UComm) and has entered a forward arrangement with University Communities to work together in partnership on acquiring and developing future student housing properties in the US.

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“Entering the US market and building a presence is another significant step for GSA. We have been patient to source the right opportunity that fits with our investment criteria and we are very pleased to have secured a major foothold across the country. We are confident this acquisition will enable us to develop significant scale, deliver on our investor promise and, most importantly, refresh the sector with our global student experience,” said Will Rowson, Chief Executive Officer of GSA Investment Management.

“This is a great transaction for the team at University Communities. It is also a significant milestone for the student housing industry as we were one of the first institutional players in the sector,” said Randy Fein, Co-founder of University Communities LLC.

“We are passionate about the business that we have built and we have therefore been determined to choose a company that shares our values and resembles the culture of University Communities. Working together in partnership offers an opportunity to further develop on what we have accomplished over many years. We are looking forward to a new and accelerated acquisition and development program with GSA,” said Lee Ryder, Co-founder of University Communities LLC.

Through its acquisition of UComm, GSA will manage and operate all properties across the portfolio integrating the existing highly capable US based leadership and management team.

All properties in the portfolio are situated in prime locations next to major universities and research institutions. The properties continuously achieve in excess of 96% occupancy and represent a platform for growth.

Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies led the whole loan origination for the transaction, with Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. agenting the senior loan.

The transaction was brokered by TSB Capital Advisors, and legal and tax advice was provided by Greenberg Traurig (GT) and McGuire Sponsel for GSA. Transaction advice to University Communities was provided by Institutional Real Estate Inc and The Principal Real Estate Investors with Haynes Boone providing legal advice.