27th January 2016
The Board of Empiric Student Property plc (ticker: ESP), the owner and operator of premium student accommodation across the UK, is pleased to confirm that the net proceeds of the Company's most recent equity fundraising in October 2015 were fully committed by the end of December 2015, significantly ahead of target. Since the fundraising, the Company has acquired, in aggregate, seven properties for a total consideration of £95.8 million comprising a total of 858 beds, of which 348 are operational and 510 are in development.
As at 31 December 2015, the Company's property portfolio comprised 5,691 beds either operating or under development across 58 assets in 26 top university cities and towns in the UK. 40 assets are operational with 18 forward funded or development assets. The operating property portfolio comprised 3,218 beds with a further 1,726 contracted to be operational during 2016 and a further 747 contracted to be operational during 2017. The entire operating portfolio is fully let for the 2015/2016 academic year(1).
The Company is in advanced discussions with further providers of medium to long term institutional debt in order to increase gearing levels towards the 35% target as set out in the Company's investment policy. A further announcement in this regard is expected later this quarter, around the time of publication of the Company's interim results for the six-month period ended 31 December 2015. The interim results will include a full independent valuation of the property portfolio as at 31 December 2015.
The Company's investment pipeline continues to be very strong with a mix of operating properties and properties under development, across multiple locations in the UK.
The Company is targeting an annual dividend of 6 pence per share for the year-ending 30 June 2016(2). Thereafter, dividends are expected to grow by at least the RPI inflation index(2).
Paul Hadaway, Chief Executive of Empiric Student Property plc, commented:
"Over the 2015 calendar year, the Company continued its strong growth trajectory, achieving over 50% of our five year target of 10,000 beds, set at IPO, by the year end. Student numbers continue to increase and, while UCAS statistics indicate an increase in acceptances of c. 4% between the 2014 and 2015 cycles, the market is already seeing the impact of the lifting of caps on EU (including UK) student numbers, with a 9% growth in acceptances from the EU over the same period. Bookings across Empiric's portfolio for the next academic year (2016/17) have commenced and are currently ahead of the Company's expectations."
(1) The Company budgets and models on the basis of 97.5% occupancy. Occupancy or income of the operational portfolio to this level and in excess is considered fully let.
(2) The target dividends stated above are targets only and not forecasts. There can be no assurance that these targets will be met and they should not be taken as an indication of the Company's expected or actual future results.
Questions? Get in touch using the contact details below.
Questions? Get in touch.
Empiric Head Office
Empiric Student Property plc
Swan House, 17-19 Stratford Place, London W1C 1BQ
+44 (0)20 3828 8700
+44 (0)20 7379 5151
Philip Noblet / Gary Gould
Jefferies International Limited
020 7029 8000
Charlie Foster / Marcus Jackson
RBC Europe Limited (trading as RBC Capital Markets)
020 7653 4000