Watkin Jones has sold a 462-bed PBSA asset in Leicester to Deutsche Finance International (DFI) for £35.6m, Property Week can reveal.


The off-market acquisition by DFI is a forward commitment to The Tannery, which Watkin Jones is set to complete ahead of the 2021/22 academic year.

The building comprises 415 en-suite rooms and 47 studios, as well amenities including a cinema room, games room, fitness studio, lounges and study areas. It will be operated by Watkin Jones’s asset management business Fresh.

The investment is DFI’s second in the UK PBSA sector, after it bought Canterbury Student Manor in 2017. It sold the building on in 2019, two years ahead of its plan, after increasing occupancy from 79% to 100% and reducing operating costs.

The pan-European investor, which manages more than €2.7bn (£2.35bn) of assets, also has a portfolio of 1,100 student beds in Denmark.

“This off market transaction represented a compelling opportunity for us to build on our UK student accommodation exposure and take advantage of the current market dislocation with the acquisition of one of the few newly constructed PBSA assets in Leicester,” said DFI investment director Paul Nearchou.

“Watkin Jones is one of UK’s leading developers and we are confident that they will deliver a high quality, modern product ready for the 2021/22 academic year. The outlook for the UK student sector remains strong, with supportive demographics and growing domestic and international demand.”

Watkin Jones chief investment officer Alex Pease, added: “It’s brilliant to secure institutional investment for this superb scheme that only adds to the growing desirability of Leicester’s dynamic riverside area. What was a brownfield site in need of regeneration will shortly offer hundreds of residents a really attractive place to live with easy access to two respected universities, as well as the shops, bars and cafés of the city centre.”

He added: “Working with DFI for the first time to complete this sale has been a real positive and the team look forward to continuing our relationship into the future. My thanks go to everyone involved in making the deal happen.”

DFI was advised by CBRE.