GLOBAL - Cordea Savills has sold two student housing blocks and acquired an Edinburgh development project as part of a bid to rebalance its portfolio toward upmarket universities and capital cities.

The fund manager's Student Hall fund sold purpose-built student halls in Birmingham and Bangor, North Wales, for £11.5m (€13m) and £16.25m, respectively.

At the same time, the firm announced it had acquired the site of a disused brewery in Edinburgh for £8.25m, with a further £13.5m earmarked for development as part of a joint venture.

In an indication of increasingly diverse trends in the student accommodation market, the new development will be a mixed-phase project with flexible planning that will allow the fund manager to let the block as short-let apartments during the annual Edinburgh Festival.

Simon Politt, director of development and acquisitions at Knightsbridge Student Housing, which acquired the two divested assets, said he saw  "significant value" in the regions.

The recently set-up firm will focus on creating a balanced portfolio of London and the regions.

"It's a matter of spreading the risk," he said. "London and Edinburgh are difficult markets with high rents. You could say the rent you have the charge may mean there's a limit to the value can get from them."

In contrast to Cordea Savills, which is rebalancing its portfolio toward the 20-odd first- and second-tier universities and sees likely rental growth in the capitals, Knightsbridge will focus on "growth" universities, based on demographics and whether the courses offer reasonable graduate job prospects.

They include Lincoln University - well outside the Russell Group - which offers vocational courses and has strong links with industry.

"It'll be led by the opportunities available," said Pollitt. "We're looking at developments throughout the UK on a case-by-case basis."

In other news, Elystan has acquired a 21,000 square meter office building from a joint venture between a Stiller Immobilien, Frankfurt, and Drees & Sommer, Stuttgart (F10).

Elystan is the investment platform of GI Partners - a private equity firm focused on investments in real estate platforms and asset-intensive businesses in Western Europe and North America.

The transaction, for which financial details were not disclosed, was funded by capital from GI Partners Fund III and supported by debt financing provided by HSH Nordbank.

Located at Feringa Str. 10-12, Munich Unterföhring, F10 is one of the "largest and most modern" multi-tenanted office buildings in the North West submarket of Munich.

The building was completed in 2004 and is currently 50% occupied.
Finally, Aerium, the European real estate fund manager, has acquired iQ - a newly developed prime office building on Justice Mill Lane in the centre of Aberdeen - for £50.1m on behalf of Glenn Arrow, Aerium's UK office fund.
Completed at the end of 2010 by the Hazledene Group, the property provides 125,500 square feet (11,625 square meters) of grade-A office space across six floors.
The asset is fully let to two leading companies - Centrica and Wood Group - operating within the oil and gas industries.

CBRE acted for Aerium, while Ryden and Donald Begg advised Hazledene.