Unite gets out of Preston student beds in £152m deal

Unite, the student accommodation market leader, today announced it has sold its two Preston halls, as part of a portfolio of nine assets, for £152m to Liberty Living.

Trinity Student Village on Great Shaw Street holds 424 beds and Foundry Court, Brook Street, 438 beds. Both were sold to Liberty, the student accommodation arm of Brandeaux Fund Management, as Unite looks to concentrate future growth on London.

The nine assets total 3,810 beds in four markets, Southampton, Cardiff, Preston and Stoke.

In a statement to the stock exchange this morning, Unite said: "This follows the earlier sale of smaller non-core assets and cessation of operations in Salford, Luton and Aberystwyth, and is consistent with the Group's stated strategy of focusing its capital and operations in larger and high-growth markets, notably London."

The group also said today it had sold two properties in Huddersfield comprising 627 beds to Swanbourne for £26.6m.

Shares in Unite jumped 7% to 227p as the market praised the fact the disposals were achieved at 2.8% greater values than their December 2007 level.

Mark Allan, chief executive of Unite, said: "These sales, at prices above the December 2007 valuations, provide strong evidence of the resilience of the student accommodation sector at a time when more general property values are under significant downward pressure. The sales are consistent with our stated strategy of focusing our capital on higher growth markets and they provide the group with significant additional funds at a time when we expect attractive opportunities to emerge."

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