Barings acquires site for first PBSA in Italy

Purchased through an Italian real estate fund managed by Savills IM SGR, Barings acquired the 25,000 sqm site from a BNL BNP Paribas owned Italian company.

Barings has acquired a PBSA site in Rome, Italy | PBSA News
Barings has acquired a PBSA site in Rome, Italy.

One of the world’s largest diversified real estate investment managers Barings has announced that it has acquired a plot of land for the development of its first purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) scheme in Italy.

Completing on a brownfield site in Rome, on behalf of its second European real estate value-add fund (BREEVA II), the disused site in the east of the city centre has planning permission for the development of a new PBSA scheme of c. 8,000 sqm, comprising 270 studio rooms and amenities including tennis and padel courts.

The scheme at Via Umberto Partini is well connected to Rome’s public transport system, with easy access to several bus and tram lines (lines 545, 163 and 409), with La Sapienza University – continental Europe’s largest institution with 110,000 students – just 15 minutes away by bus. It is also within walking distance from Tiburtina, the high-speed railway station and the second largest train station in Rome.

“Given that PBSA is a relatively immature asset class in Italy which benefits from favourable and long-term tailwinds, we identified this scheme as an excellent opportunity to fulfil long-held plans to enter the country’s student housing market.

“The property will offer its students a first-class experience, nestled in the heart of Rome with extraordinary transport links nearby and one of Europe’s largest universities also in very close proximity.

“As our first investment in the Italian PBSA sector, this transaction sets the tone as we seek to increase our exposure to student housing throughout the country, delivering grade A products in cities with strong university populations where there is a limited supply of available quality product and strong demand from students.”

Marco Corti, Managing Director and Country Head Italy, Barings Real Estate

Barings will target LEED Gold accreditation, while minimising carbon emissions over the life cycle of the project. With demolition of the site’s existing unused buildings already underway, and a specialist student housing operator set to be appointed in the coming months, the development’s first residents are expected to move in in time for the 2026/27 academic year.

While the deal marks Barings’ first investment in PBSA in Italy, student housing has been among its preferred sectors across Europe on behalf of BREEVA II and other investment strategies, including the recent forward-funding of an asset in Manchester, UK, on behalf of a pan-European strategy for core property.

“PBSA is currently one of the most sought-after real estate asset classes and we are keen to expand our exposure in this sector across Europe alongside our already strong logistics and residential holdings.

“In recent years we have been very successful in acquiring a couple of value add PBSA schemes in the UK, including St Gabriel’s Hall in Manchester a few months ago, and our focus is now set as well on our other countries in which we invest like the Nordics, Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, as well as continuing to do so in Italy.

“We like to partner/JV with developers and operators at an early stage to help our partners to secure the land, providing overall higher returns to our investors. We also continue to be on the lookout for residential opportunities like build to rent or build to sell.”

Gunther Deutsch, Managing Director and Head of European Transactions, Barings Real Estate