Far East Orchard has hooked up with two fellow Singapore-based investors on a £26.6 million ($32 million) joint venture to build a student accommodation project in Bristol, marking the developer’s fourth property in the southwestern English city.
FEO, controlled by the Ng family behind regional developer Far East Organization, holds a 50 percent interest in the JV alongside construction firm Woh Hup Holdings (37.5 percent) and family office holding company Way Assets (12.5 percent), according to a filing with the Singapore Exchange on Tuesday.
The partners will acquire a land parcel on Silverthorne Lane, close to a satellite campus of the University of Bristol, to carry out development of a student accommodation asset with at least 690 beds. The JV will hold an 85 percent stake in the project, with the remaining 15 percent held by UK-based development manager Atlas Land Ltd.
“We are excited to enter into this JV with Woh Hup, an established Singapore home-grown construction and civil engineering company,” said FEO group chief executive Alan Tang. “This JV further expands our footprint in Bristol to support the city’s growing student population.”
The development site at Plot 6 of Silverthorne Lane is located within a 10-minute walk to the University of Bristol’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, which sits next to the city’s main railway station.
The new project, expected to be completed in 2027, adds to FEO’s 3,500-bed portfolio of student housing assets in England, including three near the University of Bristol’s main campus: the 301-bed Kings Square Studios purchased from LaSalle Investment Management in 2020 for £39.3 million, as well as the 133-bed Harbour Court and 166-bed St Lawrence House acquired in 2019 as part of a £55 million deal that also included the 323-bed Glassworks in Liverpool.
The remaining portfolio comprises two properties with a total of 974 beds in Leeds and Sheffield that were bought from BlackRock in 2019 for £66.5 million, the 195-bed Hollingbury House in Brighton and the five-building Portland Green Student Village in Newcastle with a combined 1,469 beds.
FEO’s JV partner Woh Hup is known for its development of some of Singapore’s most recognisable landmarks, including Gardens by the Bay and Jewel Changi Airport. Atlas Land is wholly owned by Globus Holdings, a Guernsey-incorporated investment firm controlled by Switzerland resident Alan Chaytor and his wife.
Singaporean investors’ long love affair with UK student housing hasn’t cooled this year, with sovereign wealth fund GIC announcing last month that it would acquire Britain’s third-largest student accommodation provider, Student Roost, via a joint venture with US rental housing operator Greystar.
GIC previously hooked up with British operator Unite on a joint venture in 2017 and announced the first investment in February of that year with the £227 million acquisition of a five-building, 3,067-bed student housing complex at Aston University in Birmingham. More recently, the JV acquired two London properties for £342 million ($472 million) in a deal announced last June.
GIC had partnered with Dubai-based Global Student Accommodation Group in 2016 to buy a portfolio of UK student housing projects from funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management. No sales figures were disclosed, but the assets were expected to be worth £700 million when completed.
Singapore’s other state-backed investors have shown like-minded interest in UK student housing, with Temasek-owned Mapletree Investments acquiring a 917-bed portfolio last August for £165 million ($227 million).