Allianz, AXA, Scape form US$1bn Australian student housing fund

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European insurance giants Allianz and AXA have teamed up with student accommodation specialist Scape Australia for an A$1.5bn (US$1.03bn) core student housing joint venture in Australia.

The JV is Scape’s first closed-end core program targeting Australian purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), with cornerstone investor Allianz Real Estate providing an initial A$450m commitment. AXA will initially commit A$250m.

The program, led by Geoff Lovell, will focus on stabilised or stabilising assets across the Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra, and Adelaide markets.

Scape plans to seed the core program with completed PBSA assets developed from the Scape Australia JV 1 fund and is pursuing two portfolios currently on the market for sale.

“After successfully deploying A$1.2 billion in our first two JV’s across 18 developments over the last 4 years, and with 4 assets now operating in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane for over 2,600 students, we are excited to extend our partnership with Allianz across our development-to-core and our core PBSA program,” said Stephen Gaitanos, co-founder and CEO of Scape Australia.

“Through our organic programmatic pipeline and selected third party assets that meet our investment criteria we expect the Core Program to be the market-leading platform as the Australian PBSA sector consolidates.”

This latest round of fundraising grows Scape’s Australian platform to A$2bn of equity commitments, with the capacity to undertake more than A$5bn worth of developments and over 20,000 student rooms.

The Scape group also has assets under development in the UK, Ireland and the US.

Allianz Real Estate has previously partnered with Scape Australia as the anchor investor in the Scape Australia JV 2 PBSA Development Program, alongside Bouwinvest, WPI, a Middle-Eastern sovereign wealth fund, and Scape Australia founders Stephen Gaitanos and Craig Carracher.

“This core program is a natural extension of our successful partnership with Scape on the development side,” said Rushabh Desai, Asia-Pacific CEO of Allianz Real Estate.

“The timing of this venture positions us well to secure attractive opportunities currently on the market.”

Allianz Real Estate had €67.1bn in assets under management, as of end-June 2019.