UK – CBRE Global Investors’ multi-manager arm is providing 10 investors access to UK student housing by backing a new forward-funding strategy by start-up firm Curlew Capital.

Curlew Student Trust, which has received an initial commitment of £40m (€48.3m) from CBRE Global Multi Manager, will acquire new developments ahead of completion and has hired Fresh Student Living to manage them.

The fund will use the capital to buy a £63m seed portfolio of three developments being built by Watkins Jones Group in Sheffield, Swansea and Birmingham.

The initial £40m came from 10 investors, but it is understood that there is enough potential demand from the multi-manager’s client base to increase the size of Curlew Student Trust to £250m.

Alex Bignell, head of the UK at CBRE Global Multi Manager, said it was the latest example of the company’s “new approach of forming ventures with specialist managers”.

The multi-manager has been providing capital to smaller and specialist managers – recent examples include strategies targeting mezzanine financing in Germany and offices in Dublin – at a time when capital-raising for real estate funds has been challenging.

Curlew Student Trust is the first fund to be launched by Curlew Capital, which was established in 2011 by Paul Oliver, who was joint chief executive at Teesland for five years before it was sold to Valad in 2007.

Curlew Capital is focusing on alternative property types, including student accommodation and private-rented residential, ahead of an anticipated move towards niche sectors from institutional investors.

Oliver, who has experience of investing in both student housing and residential property, said the investors were attracted to the forward-funding strategy because it could provide higher returns and access to “state of the art” accommodation.

“Things get out of date pretty quickly” in the “fast-moving” student housing market in the UK, he said.

Oliver said the fund launch “demonstrates the demand from institutional investors for a value-add approach to investing in this thriving ‘alternative’ investment sector”.