UNITED STATES - An unnamed US state pension fund has set up a US$100m (€67.5m) account to invest in student and faculty accommodation at the University of California.

Behind the account is a joint venture between fund manager Henderson Global Investors and Valeo, a private real estate company specialising in student and faculty housing.

This joint venture comes under the rubric of Henderson's Manager of Partners (MOP) Programme, which combines institutional investors' cash with local-partner real estate expertise. To date, the programme has attracted commitments of US$600m in separate projects. 

Investment on a separate-account basis previously stipulated a minimum investment of $100m. This year, the firm will establish a fund with a lower minimum investment of $5m.

"Student and faculty housing is very much an emerging, growth segment here in the States," said Henderson spokesman Dan McDonough. "The driver is pretty simple - an extreme lack of it."

In Europe, the UK has led in developing student accommodation from a niche investment into a growth sector for institutional investors, who ploughed £600m (€405m) in 2007, encouraged by a 50% graduate government target. Elsewhere in Europe, firms such as France's Gecina have likewise targeted expansion within the segment.