WSIB puts A$2bn Australian student accommodation business up for sale

Washington State Investment Board (WSIB) has put its A$2bn (€1.25bn) Australian student accommodation business Urbanest up for sale.

Urbanest has appointed consultants Savills to manage the sale.

“Based on its preliminary feedback, there is already a huge interest in the portfolio,” a source said, adding that potential buyers could include parties like Singapore’s GIC, Greystar Real Estate Partners and possibly Brookfield.

Other names include Scape, which is backed by Allianz, Bouwinvest, APG, a Middle East sovereign wealth fund as well as Iglu, which counts Macquarie Capital as a backer.

Australia is the third-largest international student destination in the world.

Urbanest now ranks as the fourth-largest student housing operator/owner in Australia, with 12 properties offering more than 6,000 beds, according to the latest Savills Australian Student Accommodation Report 2018.

The $128.8bn (€114.86bn) US state pension fund had backed Urbanest for the past 11 years and was instrumental in building up the business to its present scale.

Asked why WSIB was exiting its Australian investment, a source said: “It sees an opportunity for a new capital partner to come into the business and to take it to the next stage of development.”

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