Scape closes $2bn student accommodation deal
The country’s largest owner and operator of student accommodation, Scape Australia, has defied the coronavirus crisis to close the $2bn acquisition of the rival Urbanest business and has called for “balanced consideration” in the relationship with China.
The sector is under pressure as international students are departing and universities have also been cutting back staff numbers, although Scape is bullish on the medium-term outlook, particularly if Australia contains the virus ahead of other student markets, Britain and the US.
Speaking as the Urbanest deal closed, Scape Australia executive chairman Craig Carracher, who has a long pedigree in Asia, including as a founding director of Ellerston Capital established by Kerry Packer in 2005, which expanded into China until 2008, and also as James Packer’s head of private equity in Asia a decade ago, called for co-operation with China.
Carracher says that having owned and operated numerous businesses dependent upon China’s economic emergence, COVID-19 was “no threat” to the relationship.
“How we manage the relationship, as custodians of that engagement is, however, of some moment and requires balanced consideration and a clear focus,” he says.
Carracher says there is a need to see past the “contemporary issue” to the depth and importance of the relationship and the opportunity to advance the welfare of all Australians through mature and considered leadership.