Australian Retirement Fund (ART) is the buyer of a Norwegian student housing portfolio acquired by real estate investment management firm Heitman.

Heitman announced on Monday that it had bought Steinan Studentby, a business that owns 218 beds in 102 apartments across two buildings in Norway.

An ART executive confirmed to IPE Real Assets today that the fund had hired Heitman to buy the Steinan Studentby business.

The business will become part of Bo Coliving, which the Brisbane-based fund acquired in March – also through Heitman, which now manages the student platform on its behalf.

“Norway has a relatively-supportive tertiary education policy, which has led to a substantial domestic student population – and a distinct shortage of good-quality student accommodation,” the ART executive told IPE Real Assets.

The fund could see a clear need to introduce a more professionally managed, institutionalised approach to the sector for the benefit of the local population, he said.

“This sets Norwegian student accommodation demand apart from that in most other countries, where reliance is on international student demand,” he said. “Norwegian students can afford to spend a reasonable amount on student accommodation.”

ART, Australia’s second-largest profit-for-member superannuation fund which manages A$260bn (€156bn), is the first among its Australian peers to enter the student housing market.

Despite its Norwegian initiative, ART is yet to enter the student living sector in its home market, where purpose-built student accommodation is still in its infancy.

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