Report: Barclays to sell UK uni stake to Gingko Tree

Gingko Tree Investment, a Chinese sovereign wealth fund, is expected to buy a 40 per cent stake in University Partnerships Programme. Barclays sold the rest of the business to Dutch pension fund PGGM earlier this month.

The Financial Times reported today that Chinese state-owned fund Gingko Tree Investment is closing in on a £550 million (€673 million; $888 million) deal to buy Barclays’ stake in University Partnerships Programme (UPP) , a developer and operator of on-campus student accommodation.

Barclays Infrastructure Funds owned the entire business, which has an enterprise value of £1.4 billion, but sold 60 per cent earlier this month to Dutch pension fund PGGM for an undisclosed amount.

UPP develops new accommodation and campus infrastructure, and operates 28,000 rooms on 35- to 50-year leaseholds. It has a built out rent roll of £133 million. Group turnover for the financial year ending 2011 to 2012 (estimated) was £104 million.

Gingko Tree Investment Limited (GTIL) is a London-registered UK company with one shareholder – the Investment Company of the People’s Republic of China (Singapore).

The sovereign wealth fund’s recent deals include a 10 per cent stake in Veolia Water UK via Beryl Datura Investment, which was acquired in June this year. The acquisition of Veolia's UK water assets was led by Morgan Stanley Infrastructure and Infracapital in a £1.24 billion transaction. 

China Investment Corporation (CIC), the country’s main sovereign wealth fund, increased its exposure to alternative assets by $11 billion in 2011 as it shied away from public market assets, according to CIC’s 2011 annual report.

The fund’s alternative investments – which include real estate, private equity and infrastructure – had grown in value to $40.4 billion in 2011 from $29.3 billion in 2010. 

In January this year, CIC bought a 9 per cent stake in Thames Water, and Beijing-backed energy groups are also vying to acquire interests in the UK’s nuclear power projects, according to the Financial Times.