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Centurion diversifies into UK student accommodation

Singapore's Centurion Corp is diversifying into student accommodation in the United Kingdom with the proposed acquisition of four properties for £77 million (S$164.5 million).

SINGAPORE: Singapore's Centurion Corp, which is best known for its worker dormitories, is diversifying into student accommodation in the United Kingdom with the proposed acquisition of four properties for £77 million (S$164.5 million).

The four properties -- Manchester Student Village, Manchester Student Village South, The Grafton in Manchester and Cathedral Campus in Liverpool -- have a total of 1,906 beds.

The transaction, which is likely to be completed in September, will be Centurion's largest acquisition to date and its first in the UK, it said in a statement on Wednesday (July 16).

Mr Kong Chee Min, Centurion's CEO, said the proposed acquisition is in line with the firm's strategic intent to expand its global footprint and build a sizeable student accommodation portfolio in key global education hubs.

"The overall trajectory of the UK higher education market has been one of growth, and we believe that this acquisition will allow us to capitalise on the continued demand for quality student accommodation," he said.

"The large bed capacity of this portfolio in the UK also provides us with immediate scale and a good platform for the group's future investments in the country," he added.

According to Centurion, the three Manchester properties are freehold, while Cathedral Campus in Liverpool is a long leasehold property with 243 years remaining.

The four properties enjoy high occupancy rates and Centurion believes there is potential to enhance or redevelop the properties to increase bed capacity.

Centurion, formerly known as SM Summit Holdings, owns and operates worker accommodation in Singapore and Johor, as well as a storage disc manufacturing business.

The firm is keen to diversify into related areas and it has purchased student accommodation in Melbourne, Australia, as well as land in Western Australia that it plans to develop into short-stay accommodation for workers and business executives in the mining industry.  

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