EXPO Real: Cain homes in on student housing with £500m

Cain International, the property business ultimately controlled by US investor Todd Boehly, has pulled off one of the biggest deals this year, making a grand entrance into the purpose-built student accommodation sector with a £500 million commitment across five UK cities.

Daniel Harris.

Under the deal 2,500 beds will be created across five assets at premier-league universities in Liverpool, Leeds, York, Manchester and Nottingham. “We love PBSA because of the very strong demand dynamics at a time when supply is constrained,” explained head of European investment Daniel Harris. “Unlike logistics there have not been a lot of new starts in PBSA – financing has made that difficult – so we think making investments like this in 2023 will prove to be a great vintage.”

With this in mind he is looking to double Cain’s commitment to the sector. “We believe going in to the sector today is the right point,” he said. The new buildings will be predominantly developed on city centre sites formerly occupied by retail. “The challenge for city centres is to repurpose redundant sites,” Harris explained. “And thats where PBSA comes in: we’re not only regenerating former retail, the students will then create footfall for the retail and service businesses that remain.”

In parallel, Cain is still looking to grow its logistics portfolio in the UK. “Yields have shifted,” Harris conceded, “but fundamental tenant demand is still strong: businesses are onshoring their supply chains post-Brexit and the trend toward home delivery continues. Even though there’s currently more availability, development has stopped so we expect that to go into reverse in 2024.”

By Graham Parker