Barings enters Italian PBSA market, acquires site in Rome

Barings is making its first investment in purpose-built student accommodation in Italy. The diversified real estate investment managers has acquired a plot of land on a brownfield site in Rome for the development of a PBSA scheme.

What the first PBSA scheme in Rome, Italy being developed by Barings will look like

 “Given that PBSA is a relatively immature asset class in Italy which benefits from favourable and long-term tailwinds, we identified this scheme as an excellent opportunity to fulfil long-held plans to enter the country’s student housing market,” said Marco Corti, managing director and country head Italy, Barings Real Estate. “As our first investment in the Italian PBSA sector, this transaction sets the tone as we seek to increase our exposure to student housing throughout the country, delivering grade A products in cities with strong university populations where there is a limited supply of available quality product and strong demand from students.”

The plot of land was acquired on behalf of Barings’ second European real estate value-add fund (BREEVA II) and purchased through an Italian real estate fund managed by Savills IM SGR, Barings has acquired the 25,000 sq m site from an Italian company that is owned by BNL BNP Paribas.

The disused site in the east of the city centre has planning permission for the development of a new PBSA scheme of c. 8,000 sq m, consisting of 270 studio rooms and amenity spaces including tennis and padel courts.

Barings will target LEED Gold accreditation, while minimising carbon emissions over the life-cycle of the project. With demolition of the site’s existing unused buildings already underway and a specialist student housing operator set to be appointed in the coming months, the development’s first residents are expected to move in in time for the 2026/27 academic year.

The scheme at Via Umberto Partini is well connected to Rome’s public transport system, with access to several bus and tram lines, with La Sapienza University – continental Europe’s largest institution with 110,000 students – 15 minutes away by bus. It is also within walking distance from Tiburtina, the high-speed railway station and the second largest train station in Rome.

While the deal marks Barings’ first investment in PBSA in Italy, student housing has been among its preferred sectors across Europe on behalf of BREEVA II and other investment strategies, including the recent forward-funding of an asset in Manchester, UK, on behalf of a pan-European strategy for core property.

“PBSA is currently one of the most sought-after real estate asset classes and we are keen to expand our exposure in this sector across Europe alongside our already strong logistics and residential holdings,” said Gunther Deutsch, managing director and head of European transactions, Barings Real Estate. “In recent years we have been very successful in acquiring a couple of value-add PBSA schemes in the UK and our focus is now set as well on our other countries in which we invest like the Nordics, Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, as well as continuing to do so in Italy.”