Student accommodation operator Scape Australia has acquired the 3,500-plus bed Atira portfolio in a near-$700 million deal as it firms up its presence in Australia’s student property sector.
The rapidly-expanding operator secured the backing of Allianz Real Estate and AXA for the deal, launching a new core fund with a $1.5 billion mandate.
Allianz will anchor the newly-launched fund with a $450 million equity commitment, while AXA has stumped up $250 million.
The Atira platform was listed for sale by Goldman Sachs and Blue Sky in 2018—with Scape, Canadian giant Brookfield and Singapore’s Mapletree named among the bidders for the portfolio.
Scape is also rumoured to be at the top of the bidding pile to buy Urbanest’s $2 billion student accommodation portfolio.
The six-building Atira portfolio will seed Scape’s newly-launched core fund, while three Atira development assets in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth will be acquired by Scape’s second joint venture development fund anchored by Allianz.
The group has now deployed $1.2 billion of capital in the sector, with 2,600 beds currently in operation and another 8,000 under construction.
Other investors in the multi-fund Scape platform include Dutch pension funds Bouwinvest and APG, a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund, German investor WPI and Scape Australia’s founders Stephen Gaitanos and Craig Carracher.
Gaitanos and Carracher sold their majority stake in The Pad Student Living portfolio—rebranded as Atira by Blue Sky and Goldman Sachs—in 2016.
“It is great to get our hands back on what is truly an excellent platform,” Gaitanos said.
“We believe the combined platform will create the undisputed leader in the Australian PBSA sector.”
After recently acquiring a portfolio of gateway sites at the University of New South Wales, Carracher said that the developer plans to “release the pressure value” on an undersupplied Australian student accommodation rental market.
“The [Atira] acquisition strengthens Scape’s strategy to leverage its branded student accommodation offering in gateway education cities in Australia,” Scape core program director Geoff Lovell said.
“With this latest capital raising, Scape’s Australian platform grows to $2 billion of equity commitments and the capacity to undertake projects with a gross development value well in excess of $5 billion and over 20,000 student rooms.”