Zakays make £100m leap into stu­dent hous­ing

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By Rhi­an­non Bury

THE bil­lion­aire broth­ers Sol and Ed­die Zakay have won the go-ahead for a £100m stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion scheme in Wem­b­ley, in a de­par­ture from lux­ury ho­tels and re­tail schemes.

Their prop­erty com­pany To­p­land Group owns the Royal Cres­cent Ho­tel in Bath and a string of more tra­di­tional re­tail and of­fice de­vel­op­ments. The Zakays have now joined up with the Manch­ester-based de­vel­oper Cole Water­house to tar­get the stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion boom. UCFB, a sports univer­sity in Wem­b­ley, has al­ready com­mit­ted to lease more than half of the rooms.

The Zakays’ move comes as the area around Wem­b­ley Sta­dium un­der­goes a mas­sive over­haul. Wem­b­ley Park, an 85-acre de­vel­op­ment, will de­liver around 5,000 homes as well as build­ings for re­tail and ho­tels.

Stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion has be­come a more main­stream in­vest­ment op­por­tu­nity in re­cent years thanks to in­creas­ing stu­dent num­bers putting pres­sure on univer­sity-owned halls.

Large com­pa­nies such as Unite and Em­piric have ex­panded rapidly in re­sponse to de­mand for pri­vately run op­tions for stu­dents.

Ma­jor in­vestors in­clud­ing Le­gal & Gen­eral and the Canada Pen­sion Plan In­vest­ment Board have also bought stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion port­fo­lios in re­cent years.

Now in their 60s, the Is­rael-born Zakays keep a low pro­file but are among Bri­tain’s most suc­cess­ful prop­erty in­vestors, hav­ing built an em­pire via sale and lease­back re­tail deals, par­tic­u­larly with Marks & Spencer and Tesco. To­p­land fell foul of the Govern­ment seven years ago when it was ac­cused of run­ning a £22.8m “con­spir­acy” to charge “sig­nif­i­cantly higher” than mar­ket rent for a court build­ing.

The com­pany de­nied the Min­istry of Jus­tice claim and the case was set­tled out of court.

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