Student accommodation group in £600m deal for eight properties

A Vita Student room in York

DWS and Manchester-based Vita Group today announced the completion of a landmark agreement which sees DWS acquire a portfolio of Vita Student assets for around £600m, on behalf of its real estate funds.

The deal incorporates eight UK assets and will see Vita Group continue to manage and operate the buildings on behalf of DWS. Vita Group was advised by Savills and Rothschild on the transaction.

The portfolio consists of a total of 3,198 beds across Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds, Birmingham and Newcastle across eight assets, three of which will complete construction imminently.

All assets are purpose-built to a high-specification, with market-leading amenities in prime city centre locations in Russell Group University cities.

Vita Student was launched in 2013 to offer premium, experience-led, student accommodation and has 5,760 beds in 19 residences across 12 cities in the UK.

The deal will allow Vita to scale its growth both domestically and internationally, with a significant future pipeline which includes the first international Vita Student scheme in Barcelona.

For DWS, this acquisition further expands its presence and expertise in the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) sector and follows the recent forward purchase of a large scale scheme in Wembley, London.

Vita Group chief executive Mark Stott said: “Finding the right strategic investment partner was imperative to the future of our business and I’m delighted to announce today’s news.

“This deal is hugely significant for both the next chapter of growth for Vita Student and the wider Vita Group as we bring more innovative brands to market.”

Ronen Ribak, head of real estate transactions, Europe at DWS, said: “A high-end portfolio in strong locations catering to both local and international students was critical in our decision to acquire this portfolio, and to partner with a true experience-led operator such as Vita Group.

“We will continue to seek best-in-class student housing properties across Europe and partner with managers and operators with a shared trajectory of growth as we continue to deploy capital in the European student housing sector.”

Matthias Naumann, CIO and head of strategy, alternatives, Europe at DWS, said: “The Vita Student portfolio provides a significant opportunity for DWS to further re-balance our European portfolio towards the residential sector and its sub segments.

“With demand for higher education growing globally, we expect UK universities to continue to attract students from both the UK and overseas, despite current uncertainties.

“It allows DWS to increase its presence in a sector offering strong long-term growth prospects while being defensive during downturns. This is very much in line with the investment strategy of our funds.”