iQ adds two properties in London and Edinburgh to its portfolio


iQ Student Accommodation (iQ), one of the UK’s leading providers of student housing and a Blackstone portfolio company, has supported Blackstone in the acquisition from Downing Students of two high-quality, purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) assets – Vega in London and The Mont in Edinburgh.

Vega is an 841-bed property located in Vauxhall, close to key transport links which provide excellent connectivity to top tier universities throughout central London. Opened in 2021 and built to a BREEAM Excellent standard, it offers best in-class amenities for residents, including a gym, private dining area, sky lounge and roof terrace.

The Mont, a brand-new property which opened in September 2023, comprises 324 beds and is located a short walk from the University of Edinburgh’s Central Area and the historic city center. The property provides students with amenities including a cinema room, private dining area, gym and residents lounge.

London and Edinburgh are two of the UK’s most vibrant and popular university destinations for students. London – where iQ is one of the largest providers of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) – is ranked the best student city in the world with four of the world’s top 50 universities, while The University of Edinburgh is one of the UK’s most prestigious universities – ranked 5th in the UK, 1st in Scotland and 15th globally.

Matt Merrick, CEO of iQ Student Accommodation, said: “We are delighted to be expanding our portfolio of high-quality, well-located student accommodation in these two capital cities, home to some of the most prestigious universities in the world, and where supply continues to fall short of demand. This builds on recent acquisitions in Glasgow, Nottingham and Warwick, as iQ and Blackstone continue to invest in Russell Group markets where student growth is highest. We look forward to welcoming students for the 2023/24 academic year, bringing them the fantastic accommodation experience that iQ provides.”

Samir Amichi, Head of Real Estate Acquisitions Europe, Blackstone, said: “London and Edinburgh are two of the UK’s most attractive student cities, with world leading educational institutions attracting students from both across the UK and abroad. We are delighted to have partnered with Downing Students on these transactions and with Vega and The Mont in its portfolio, iQ will add further capacity to its best in-class offering for student housing, an area in which we will continue to deploy capital with conviction.”

Bay Downing, Investment Director at Downing, said: "This transaction will enhance our ability to accelerate the expansion of our pipeline. We have strong ambitions for the growth of Downing Students and Downing Living, and going forward, we will seek co-investment opportunities with the right partners."

Blackstone acquired iQ in May 2020 for £4.7 billion, which at the time was the largest ever private real estate transaction in the UK. iQ now owns and operates 81 properties, comprising over 33,000 beds and has over 4,000 beds in its development pipeline – 100% located in Russell Group towns and cities where student demand is highest.