GIC invests AUD400m in Australian student housing

Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC has invested AUD400m (€280m) in Australia’s student housing market.

GIC bought two blocks of student accommodation in Sydney from Frasers Property Australia and its joint venture partner Sekisui House.

The price paid sets a record for student housing in Australia, according to industry sources.

One source told IPE Real Estate: “They were sold at AUD400,000 per bed, setting a new benchmark for the sector.”

There are 1,043 beds in the two blocks.

The source said GIC would replace the current operator, Unilodge, with Iglu, an Australian-based developer, operator and owner of purpose-built student accommodation.

He added: “Iglu will take over the management from 1 May.”

The source pointed out that rebranding of the properties and the change of operator was not unexpected because GIC has held a stake in Iglu since 2014.

GIC was an early mover in Australia’s student housing sector, having invested AUD150m with Macquarie Capital in Iglu, which has now more than 2,000 beds.

The two student housing blocks are in the Central Park urban regeneration development to the south of Sydney. The blocks are near the University of Technology Sydney, Notre Dame University and the University of Sydney.

Industry sources said proximity to the institutions has enhanced the value of the student accommodation, which was sold on a capitalisation rate of around 6% to 7%, lower than the going yield of 7%-8%.

Frasers Property Australia, ultimately owned by Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, called tenders late last year for the assets.

At the time, Frasers Australia’s chief executive, Rod Fehring, said the decision to sell was because they “did not form part of our strategic direction”.

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