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GSA & Harrison Street enter Spanish market

Global Student Accommodation Group and Harrison Street, both global operators in the student accommodation sector, have announced a joint venture worth at least €750m in Spain.

The Spanish capital will be a launchpad for Iberian growth, the companies hope. Photo: Unsplash

GSA's local partners Nexo Residencias run the sites

The partnership will involve the acquisition of more than 10,000 bed spaces in university cities across cities such as Barcelona and Madrid.

“We have rapidly created a strong first mover advantage in Spain”

This investment, which will be focused on purpose-built student accommodation, is only the first step of the plan, according to a joint statement from the firms.

“The agreement will allow GSA España, together with Harrison Street, to achieve its ambitious growth plans across the Iberian Peninsula and expand into other targeted areas of Europe,” it explained.

Initially, 8,000 bed spaces will be built across the Spanish capital and Catalonian hub. This will add to the 2,000 existing beds built by GSA España since its introduction to the market in 2017. It was this speedy growth in the fertile Spanish market that led to the joint venture, the companies said.

The current spaces are managed by GSA’s local partners, Nexo Residencias, which the global suppliers said forms part of its long-term strategy in the country.

Two new accommodation “communities” will open in Barcelona by September 2019, with the company focusing on the city due to its popularity among international students – and lack of available PBSA (less than 10% of the student body has access to such housing, according to GSA).

“Together with Harrison Street, we have rapidly created a strong first mover advantage in Spain. With Harrison Street’s investment expertise and our unique student ecosystem, specialist hospitality management, and operating credentials we are well placed for another winning partnership in both Spain and more widely in targeted areas across Europe,” Nicholas Porter, executive chairman of GSA Group said.

Rob Mathias, managing director at Harrison Street, said the company was pleased to continue a successful relationship with GSA.

“We are excited to continue our long-standing relationship with GSA Group to bring our rigorous investment approach and combined student housing expertise to the growing Spanish student housing market through partnerships with proven operators and developers, and we look forward to continuing our growth together across Europe,” he said in a statement.

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