Porter’s UK student housing firm acquires fund manager

Student housing pioneer Nick Porter has stepped up the expansion of his Global Student Accommodation Group (GSA) with the full takeover of fund manager Coral Portfolio.

Student housing pioneer Nick Porter has stepped up the expansion of his Global Student Accommodation Group (GSA) with the full takeover of fund manager Coral Portfolio.

GSA announced today that it has acquired the remaining 50 percent of Coral following the purchase of an initial 50 percent stake in May 2014. The business, which has $200 million of student housing assets under management, will be rebranded as GSA Coral.

The deal is part of a wider expansion programme by Porter, who is acknowledged as one of the founding fathers of purpose-built student housing as an asset class after establishing leading UK operator Unite and later the Urbanest brand in Australia and London.

GSA, which Porter founded in 2008 as a specialist developer, operator and asset manager, is expected to follow the Coral deal with investments in northern Europe, with a focus on Germany, the second-largest student housing market in Europe after the UK.

Porter told Real Estate Capital: “The coming months hold great promise for all our investors, new and existing.”

Coral was established in 2008 as the first EU-regulated fund vehicle for private investors to benefit from the strong returns generated by purpose-built student housing. Following regulatory approval, the re-branded GSA Coral will continue to utilise a broad range of funds and investment strategies otherwise only available institutionally.

GSA has brought the international spread of its operations to bear on Coral since 2014. Porter claimed that it has become the first student accommodation fund to go “truly global”, acquiring assets in growing markets like Australia as well as securing a first-mover advantage in new student housing markets, such as Dubai.

Porter said the fund is building a global presence at a time when the number of students enrolling at university is forecast to grow by almost 100 million worldwide over the next 10 years, supporting both occupancy levels and investment returns.

John Kennedy, co-founder of Coral Portfolio said: “I am delighted to be bringing Coral Portfolio fully into the wider GSA platform, offering an even greater depth of underwriting expertise, resource and reach into capital markets. Our expanded expertise and capabilities will offer unrivalled access for our investors to unique and rewarding projects in targeted UK and international locations.”

In addition to the assets in the Coral fund, GSA has directly held assets in the UK, Ireland, Dubai and China. The group developed the Urbanest brand from scratch to a business with 8,000 student beds in Australia and London before selling its shareholding to M3 Capital Partners in December 2014.

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