The Unite Group plc, one of the UK's leading owners, managers and developers of student accommodation, announces an update on current trading and the timetable for the proposed acquisition of Liberty Living.
Student intake in 2019/20 is expected to be in line with the record levels seen over the past few years with growth in the University cities where Unite operates. We have continued to see strongest growth in acceptances at higher tariff Universities, which have risen by 1.8% versus last year.
As we enter the final stages of the lettings cycle for the 2019/20 academic year, Unite Students has achieved a strong lettings performance across its portfolio with 98% of bed spaces let. This follows a strong sales performance in summer 2019 with revenue around 40% higher versus last year. As such, we remain confident in delivering rental growth of 3.0-3.5% for 2019/20 and 2020/21, including improved utilisation.
The Competition and Markets Authority (the ‘CMA’) has today confirmed the start of its Phase 1 merger inquiry in relation to our proposed £1.4 billion acquisition of Liberty Living. Completion of the acquisition is conditional upon CMA clearance and is anticipated in Q4 2019. We remain confident, based on the revised timetable, of delivering the previously outlined cost synergies of £4 million in 2020 and £15 million p.a. from 2021.
Richard Smith, Chief Executive of Unite Students, commented:
Demand for UK Higher Education remains robust, as reflected in the record share of 18-year olds choosing to attend University. Student demand also supports our strategic alignment to mid and higher tariff Universities. Despite increased political and economic uncertainty, we maintain our positive outlook for the business, reflecting the strength of our operational and letting performance and opportunities to drive further improvements in utilisation and efficiency while investing in further value-added services for our students.