Barings has acquired a site for its first purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) scheme in Italy from an Italian company owned by BNL BNP Paribas.

The manager – on behalf of its second European value-add real estate fund, BREEVA II – is investing an unspecified amount through an Italian real estate fund managed by Savills IM SGR to acquire the 25,000sqm brownfield site in Rome.

Barings said the disused site at Via Umberto Partini in the east of the city centre has planning permission for the development of a new PBSA scheme of 8,000sqm, consisting of 270 studio rooms and amenity spaces including tennis and padel courts.

“With demolition of the site’s existing unused buildings already under way and a specialist student housing operator set to be appointed in the coming months, the development’s first residents are expected to move in in time for the 2026/27 academic year,” Barings said.

This deal is the manager’s initial foray into the Italian PBSA market. However, student housing has been one of the manager’s preferred sectors across Europe. Their investments in this area include those made through BREEVA II and other strategies, such as the recent forward funding of a Manchester, UK, asset for a pan-European core property strategy.

Marco Corti, managing director and country head for Italy at Barings Real Estate, said: “Given that PBSA is a relatively immature asset class in Italy which benefits from favourable and long-term tailwinds, we identified this scheme as an excellent opportunity to fulfil long-held plans to enter the country’s student housing market. The property will offer its students a first-class experience, nestled in the heart of Rome with extraordinary transport links nearby and one of Europe’s largest universities also in very close proximity. 

Barings PBSA scheme in Rome, Italy

Source: Barings

Barings PBSA scheme in Rome, Italy

“As our first investment in the Italian PBSA sector, this transaction sets the tone as we seek to increase our exposure to student housing throughout the country, delivering Grade A products in cities with strong university populations where there is a limited supply of available quality product and strong demand from students.”

Gunther Deutsch, managing director and head of European transactions at Barings Real Estate, said: “PBSA is currently one of the most sought-after real estate asset classes and we are keen to expand our exposure in this sector across Europe alongside our already strong logistics and residential holdings.

Deutsch said that in recent years Barings has been successful in acquiring a couple of value-add PBSA schemes in the UK, including the St Gabriel’s Hall in Manchester a few months ago, and “our focus is now set as well on our other countries in which we invest like the Nordics, Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, as well as continuing to do so in Italy”.

“We like to partner/JV with developers and operators at an early stage to help our partners to secure the land, providing overall higher returns to our investors. We also continue to be on the lookout for residential opportunities like build to rent or build to sell.”

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