Financial close on Essex student scheme

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Financial close on Essex student scheme

Essex University is due to close the financing of its accommodation scheme with a second Assured Guaranty-wrapped index-linked bond issue, following the university’s first deal in March 2017.

Uliving, the student accommodation developer and operator, has finalized agreements to finance a new £67.5 million (US$86.1 million) student development for the university in Colchester. The Copse will see the creation of 643 new student bedrooms.

Equity partners together with Uliving are Equitix and Centro Place Investment; the credit enhancer is Assured Guaranty; the bond purchaser is Pension Insurance Corporation; and the bond arranger is TradeRisks.

The Copse continues Uliving’s partnership with the University of Essex to upgrade its student accommodation offering. Having refurbished 780 existing bedrooms as part of The Quays and developed 648 new bedrooms as part of The Meadows, this new phase links in with the previous buildings and is the latest addition to the University’s Knowledge Gateway, a research and technology park at its Colchester Campus.

Work on the project is set to complete in September 2018. Bouygues UK is the main contractor and early works are already underway on site.

Uliving’s Board Director, Nicolas Guérin, said:

“Finalising this innovative debt package is a major step forward for this project, which continues our partnership with the University of Essex and will see us further expanding its accommodation offer and improving its student experience. With financial close now reached and early works underway on site, I look forward to seeing this exciting project brought to fruition.”

Chris Oldham of the University of Essex, added:

“We are committed to providing a first-class living and learning experience for the growing number of students who choose to study at the University of Essex. Providing high-quality, purpose-built on-campus accommodation is at the heart of that commitment and we’re pleased this latest development has received financial backing.”

Ben Fry, Managing Director of TradeRisks, said:

“This transaction highlights the extremely advantageous financing conditions for student accommodation projects in this very low-rate environment and follows on from the successful refinancing of an earlier phase in February 2017. We are pleased to have supported the University and the sponsors with this project which provides the University with both additional high-quality on campus accommodation and further funds to invest in its core estate.”

Liz Cain, Senior Debt Origination Manager of Pension Insurance Corporation, said:

“This latest investment by PIC in student accommodation builds on an existing relationship with the various parties following an investment of £98m earlier this year to allow refinancing of an existing accommodation block on campus. PIC is a buy and hold investor and these projects work well as there is a long-term nominations agreement in place with the university which links to our long-term partnership approach. We are delighted to have been able to complete this transaction with the University. As a growing business, we have continued appetite to invest in the sector.”

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