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Empiric acquires student accommodation assets in London and Exeter

16th August 2016

The Board of Empiric Student Property plc is pleased to announce that the Group has acquired the freeholds of three operating properties, two in London and one in Exeter, with a total of 213 beds, for an aggregate cash consideration of £21.5 million (excluding acquisition costs) from CBRE Global Investors.

Isca Lofts, Exeter - £4.73 million

Isca Lofts, Longbrook Street, Exeter, is a direct-let student accommodation property with 71 beds across five studios and 66 en-suite bedrooms, plus management offices, onsite laundry and storage facilities.  There is a retail unit on the ground floor which was sold in 2009 on a long leasehold (125 years) and which pays a peppercorn ground rent and service charge.  The property, which was converted in 2008 from a 1920s former warehouse, is well located in Exeter city centre, close to Empiric's other assets (facilitating operating economies of scale) and within a 12 minute walk to the University of Exeter campus.

The property, which is currently managed by Universal Student Living ("USL"), was fully let for 2015/16 and is fully pre-let for the 2016/17 academic year.  The property will be operated by Collegiate AC, which operates the Group's other Exeter properties, from January 2017.

Grosvenor Hall, Twickenham, London - £6.18 million

Grosvenor Hall, Grosvenor Road, Twickenham, is a direct-let student accommodation property with 72 beds across one studio and 71 bedrooms arranged in multi-bed apartments plus management offices, laundry facilities, storage and parking which is let to students.  The property was converted from offices in 2011 and is located within a five minute walk of Twickenham mainline train station which is a 20 minute direct journey into central London.  The property is also a 20 minute walk or 10 minute bus ride to St Mary's University in Twickenham.  St Mary's University has a well established reputation for excellence in Education, Sport and Theology, with over 5,000 students, of which over a quarter are postgraduates.

The property is currently managed by USL and will be migrated onto the Hello Student® operating platform from the beginning of 2017. The property was fully let for 2015/16 and is fully pre-let for the 2016/17 academic year, benefiting from an agreement with St Mary's University to underwrite the income on nearly half of the beds to meet its clearing requirements and a nominations agreement with LAL Language School for nine of the remaining beds.

Francis Gardner Hall, West Hampstead, London - £10.59 million

Francis Gardner Hall, West End Lane, West Hampstead, has 70 beds, of which 65 are en-suite, arranged in multi-bed apartments and communal facilities including a gym, a cinema room and a games room.  The building was originally constructed in around 1890 and was converted and refurbished in 2004/05.  The property is located within a five minute walk to West Hampstead station (serviced by the Jubilee underground line, the Overground line and Thameslink) and under 10 minutes' walk to Kilburn Park station (on the Bakerloo underground line), providing easy access into central London.

The property is currently let to young professionals on a six-month assured shorthold tenancy basis and is currently 97% let.  It will remain under the management of the incumbent, Springboard Urban, but will be migrated onto the Hello Student® operating platform at the beginning of 2017, at which point the property will start to be operated as student accommodation.

Paul Hadaway, Chief Executive of Empiric Student Property plc, commented:

"The acquisition of this portfolio increases our presence in Exeter to 414 beds across five properties and adds a further 142 beds in London, where the Group owns one other property, Halsmere Studios in Camberwell with 79 beds.  Empiric has a limited presence in London in relation to the size of the full-time student population in the city, as we believe that, typically, assets in the regions represent better investment value.  However, as these acquisitions demonstrate, we will continue to acquire properties in London that meet our investment criteria and which should provide good returns going forward.  This acquisition is in line with Empiric's investment criteria and returns profile."

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The Empiric plc management team has a long track record in the acquisition, development and management of student accommodation assets in the UK.

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