Henderson Park makes student sector debut with Hines JV

The London-based private equity real estate firm led by former Mount Kellett executive Nick Weber has followed up debut acquisitions in the UK, France, Spain and Greece with another first.

Henderson Park has continued its expansion into European real estate by entering the student accommodation sector following the formation of a joint venture with Houston-based investment manager Hines.

Nick Weber, the former Mount Kellett executive and founder of Henderson Park, and Lars Huber, chief executive of Hines Europe, said the partnership would be targeting value-add investments across a range of European university cities on a deal-by-deal basis, PERE understands.

The partnership’s first acquisition is a 630-bed development in Lancaster, in the north of England, currently under construction and set for completion in time for the 2019-20 academic year. The scheme will incorporate a range of shared facilities including a roof-level lounge, study library, gym and cinema space.

Lancaster University

“Lancaster is one of the UK’s top universities and has a large and growing population of domestic and international students, but an acute under-supply of modern purpose-built student accommodation, which this investment will help address,” Weber said.

Although the deal represents Henderson Park’s first acquisition in student accommodation, Hines launched an in-house operating platform called Aparto earlier this year comprising 13 developments in the UK and Ireland with a combined GDV of over £500 million.

The Lancaster purchase is the second separate joint venture between the two firms, following their €33 million acquisition of the five-star Ledra Marriott hotel in Athens in June – also notable because it was Henderson Park’s first deal in Greece.

Weber launched the firm in September 2016 after receiving $500 million of backing from US private equity firm Stone Point Capital, sovereign wealth fund Kuwait Investment Authority and Kuwait-based investment manager Wafra Investment Advisory Group.

Henderson Park made its first acquisition – Paris’s largest hotel, Le Méridien Étoile – two months later for around €365 million. That was followed by its debut UK deal, the combined €500 million purchase of two Hilton Metropole Hotels in London and Birmingham.

In January, the firm also moved into the UK multifamily space via a partnership with US sector specialist Greystar Real Estate Partners, through which it acquired a portfolio of assets for £140 million ($183.7 million; €157.9 million). Last month it made its first office, and Spanish, investment with the purchase of an nine-story asset in Madrid.

Henderson Park is one example of a private equity real estate firm established and immediately supported on the track record of its founder. Another is Kildare Partners, formed by Ellis Short, the ex-Lone Star Funds executive. Short’s firm was founded in 2013 and raised $2 billion for its debut fund, Kildare European Partners, at final closing a year later.

While at Mount Kellett, Weber was understood to have led the purchase and sale of the Jury’s Inn hotel group for £680 million in a deal that generated a 90 percent-plus IRR and a 3.25x equity multiple.

In October, Henderson Park held a first close on its maiden investment fund after raising around €950 million toward a €1.3 billion target. The firm was understood to have received backing from family offices, high-net-worth individuals and institutions in the US, Middle East and the UK. The hotel and office transactions to date represent around 40 percent of the fund’s equity.