Barings enters Liverpool PRS market with Keel purchase

Barings Real Estate has made its first foray into Liverpool’s private rented sector residential market, paying Moorfield £46.75m for the 240-apartment The Keel, developed by Glenbrook at Queens Dock.

The acquisition also includes the adjacent plot, for which Glenbrook has secured consent for further residential development. The investment has been made as part of Barings’ pan-European core investment strategy on behalf of institutional investors.

The Keel comprises 240 apartments, with 425 beds, across 170,500 sq ft arranged over five floors. Formerly home to HMRC, the Keel was converted by Glenbrook in the city’s first PRS development. Amenities include a manned concierge/reception, on-site gym, 207 car parking spaces and secure perimeter fencing.

Glenbrook introduced the scheme to Barings and will partner with them on the asset management of The Keel and the development of the remaining consented land. The second phase, designed by Brock Carmichael, comprises around 260 apartments, taking the scheme overall to around 500.

Phase one of The Keel was delivered in 2015 with Pochin’s engaged as main contractor, with a reported value of £30m.

Darren Hutchinson, head of UK real estate transactions at Barings, said, “This transaction presents a rare opportunity to acquire a well located operating PRS asset in an iconic building on Liverpool’s riverside.

“We believe there is an opportunity to add value through leasing up the vacant apartments and capturing rental reversion as a number of short-term leases in The Keel expire.

“Barings believes the UK PRS sector, and the regional mid-market sector in particular, is at the beginning of a period of sustained growth. We have extensive experience managing and investing in multifamily properties in the US and our acquisition of the Keel is a great start to our strong ambitions to expand that expertise to the UK.”

Charles Ferguson-Davie, chief investment officer at Moorfield, said: “The Keel was one of the first PRS/BTR projects delivered in the UK and we are proud to have been at the forefront of this new and emerging sector.

”We will now be looking to identify new opportunities on behalf of our new fund, which achieved a first close in October 2017. This is targeting further investments in PRS/BTR, student accommodation, logistics, mixed-use projects and infrastructure-led opportunities.”

Moorfield has also invested in three other build to rent projects, including The Trilogy and Duet in Castlefield and Salford Quays, both Glenbrook developments.

The investment is Barings’ second in the UK PRS market after it provided a £34.7m mortgage loan to fund the acquisition of the Lightbox build-to-rent residential project in MediaCity, currently being built by contractor Bouygues.

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