Taking advantage of the UK's recent currency depreciation Bangkok-based property development company Country Group Developments has made an investment in the UK schools market.
After the UK voted in favor of leaving the European Union on 23 June sterling fell to its lowest levels since 1985. Volatility has increased since the vote and yo-yoed on news of the former Home Secretary Theresa May becoming the new Prime Minister, and the Bank of England deciding against cutting interest rates at their monthly July meeting. Sterling was valued at $1.32 and THB 46.2 at time of writing.
“As a long-term international investor, the recent turmoil around Brexit has encouraged us to expedite our plans in the United Kingdom to take advantage of the weaker sterling,” said Ben Taechaubol, chief executive of Country Group Developments.
“In addition we will benefit from the Bank of England's proposal to further reduce interest rates and the indication that real GDP forecasts, despite recent UK press headlines, will remain relatively in line with previous expectations. All these factors will provide a positive environment for our continued investment.”
Advised on the transaction by real estate investment management firm Palmer Capital Asia, Country Group acquired Ovingdean Hall School for £18 million ($24 million; €22 million). The deal consists of a 20-acre site with a Grade II listed hall and a selection of school related buildings located Ovingdean, just three miles from the city of Brighton. The investment forms part of a long-term 'build-to-core' strategy that is exclusively focused on the acquisition of direct education related real estate, located within a 100-mile radius of Greater London.
“Post Brexit, nothing has really changed for us. We have a 10+ year investment horizon, an acute knowledge of the sector, and a willingness to work in partnership with our tenants to create entrepreneurial structures that support their business development and growth,” commented Simon Tyrrell, managing director of Palmer Capital Asia.
Palmer has made other education related investments previously – but mainly around investing in nurseries. However, simultaneous to the UK investment strategy, Palmer Capital and Country Group are also undertaking a similar schools strategy in Asia, and currently reviewing opportunities in Thailand, Malaysia, Korea and Hong Kong.
At the end of last year Palmer Capital advised Country Group on listing Thailand's first international Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) that will be invested in foreign property holdings.
The MFC Industrial Trust (MIT) was listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand in the second week of December last year at a valuation of £26 million.