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Student accommodation pioneer GSA blazes global expansion trail

Annual Review 2017-2018

June 2018

Global investment into the evolving purpose-built student accommodation sector continues to grow phenomenally.

Nick Porter has been a pioneer in the sector for over 27 years, as founder of the UK’s largest (FTSE 250) purpose-built student accommodation provider and, subsequently, as co-founder of a student accommodation platform in London and multiple cities in Australia.

Nick Porter and colleagues, many of whom have worked together since the 1990s, founded Global Student Accommodation Group (GSA) in 2008. In under ten years GSA has grown quickly, with support from valued investors, and now operates in 33 cities in eight countries in Europe, the Middle East & Africa and Asia-Pacific.

According to Nick Porter, “The emergence in developing countries of a fast-growing, new middle class has created globally mobile students. Universities are competing for a much bigger pool of students with a demand for high quality student accommodation.

“This process has been sped up by technology, where students have infinite access to information and ideas. The desire for new experiences, academic opportunities and travel has put universities in a unique position as true drivers of the knowledge economy.”

Transactions on which CMS have acted for GSA include:

  • the creation of a German multicity joint venture, with Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, and its subsequent growth through acquisition and development in Berlin, Darmstadt, Dresden, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Munster
  • the acquisition, with GIC, of the 7,150-bed UK Student Housing Company business and its subsequent operation
  • the creation of a Japanese joint venture with Star Asia Group, including the development and financing of a 364-bed purpose-built student accommodation community
  • the purchase of the Spanish Nexo Residencias operating business, established assets in Madrid and Barcelona and two development sites
  • the development and subsequent sale and leaseback with Emirates NBD of a 424-bed purpose-built student residence in Dubai.

CMS London partner Nick Collins said, “We have a genuine interest in the ongoing global evolution of the sector, having acted on all aspects of student accommodation since 1997. Our well-established student accommodation team, based in multiple countries, enables us to provide commercially astute advice which takes into account, and anticipates, local nuances.

“We work side by side with GSA in providing business support and legal advice across multiple practice areas and jurisdictions.”

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