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Unite Seeks REIT Approval

Posted by Richard Ward in

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

Unite Group is seeking approval for various amendments to the Company's Articles of Association in regards to its proposed conversion to a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), with effect from 1 January 2017.

As a result, the company has given notice of a General Meeting, which is to be held on Wednesday 30 November 2016.

The company's latest trading update for the period ending 7 November 2016 shows that its portfolio is currently 98% utilised for the 2016/17 academic year with average rental growth for the full year of 3.8%. Due to the high occupancy and rental growth, Unite is expecting to deliver an EPS yield of around 4.5% in 2016.

In particular, Unite noted that growth in student numbers was strongest at the upper (+3%) and mid-tariff Universities (+1%), which is where the majority of their portfolio is concentrated. In comparison, lower tariff Universities reported a slight reduction in numbers.

Looking forward the student property specialist reported that 1,500 students have already re-booked for the next year, while 17,000 university nominated beds have taken occupancy levels to 37%. This compares to a utilisation of 35% at the same point last year.

The strong start to the year has supported Unite's view of 3.0-3.5% rental growth for the 2017/18 academic year.

Unite currently hold a development pipeline of over 5,500 beds and remain confident it will secure planning consents on its remaining 2018 and 2019 pipeline. The company said: "The development market in our target regional locations remains attractive and we are reviewing a number of schemes in line with our target returns. We are also reviewing a small number of development opportunities in London which are approaching our target returns of 7.0-7.5%."

Unite Group Plc will hold an investor and analyst day on 1 December 2016 and release its preliminary results on 22 February 2017.