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Clifford Chance advises CPPIB on the £1.4 billion sale of Liberty Living to Unite Group

9 July 2019

Clifford Chance advises CPPIB on the £1.4 billion sale of Liberty Living to Unite Group

International law firm Clifford Chance has advised the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board ("CPPIB") on the sale of Liberty Living Group Plc to London listed Unite Group plc ("Unite") in a transaction which enhances Unite's position as a leading operator in UK student accommodation.

The transaction, which is subject to various conditions, is a transformative one for Unite, adding Liberty Living's high quality portfolio of purpose built student accommodation with 24,021 beds and an independent valuation of £2.2 billion as at 31 May 2019 to Unite's portfolio of 48,815 beds across 122 properties with an independent valuation of £3.2 billion as at 31 March 2019 on a see-through basis.

The transaction reinforces Clifford Chance's credentials in the growing student accommodation sector, with the firm having been involved in many of the largest UK deals in recent years, including having advised Brandeaux Student Accommodation Fund on its disposal of the Liberty Living portfolio to CPPIB in 2015 and Wellcome Trust on the merger of its student accommodation portfolio with the portfolio held by Goldman Sachs and Greystar which is now trading under the iQ brand.

The Clifford Chance team was led by London Corporate Partner and Co-Head of the Real Estate Sector, Adrian Levy, who said:

“We are proud of our student accommodation track record and delighted to have advised CPPIB on this significant transaction in the sector. We anticipate that this sector will continue to evolve and attract investors focussed on predictable strong income yield”.

Partner, Simon Thomas (ECM), who advised on the public market documentation and ECM aspects of the transaction, commented:

“The transaction shows the value we can deliver to clients through our multi-disciplinary teams who have a deep knowledge of the real estate market”.

Partner Catherine Cook (Real Estate) together with a team from CMS, advised on the property aspects. The associate team was led by Corporate senior associate James Lloyd-Thomas and associate Edwin Wong, with assistance from Capital Markets senior associates Ben Morgan and Obinna Nwachukwu and Real Estate senior associate Angela Shepherd. Partner & London Head of Antitrust Greg Olsen and senior associate Annagiulia Zanazzo advised in connection with antitrust issues, Partner Chinwe Odimba-Chapman and senior associate Amy Bird advised on all employment aspects and Partner David Saleh and senior associate Edward Page advised on tax aspects.