Chicago investor devises £250M deal as real estate grows with UK's biotech sector
Having snapped up a coveted spot at Kendall Square in Cambridge, MA for a reported $1 billion last year, Chicago-based real estate investor Harrison Street is eyeing several life sciences properties in the UK.
Harrison Street is partnering with London’s Trinity Investment Management for the £250 million ($328 million) deal, which would give them joint ownership of 1.6 million square feet of lab and office space, making them landlords of life sciences companies such as GW Pharmaceuticals, the Financial Times reported.
The five properties span Kent, Colworth, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
Christopher Merrill, co-founder and CEO of Harrison Street, told the FT he sees “unbelievable growth” in the life sciences industry and, by extension, the real estate it occupies.
“Despite being the second most advanced life sciences and innovation market in the world, the real estate market in the UK is vastly undeveloped,” Rob Mathias, Merrill’s senior managing director and head of international business for Harrison Street, told IPE Real Estate. “However, the sector exhibits strong fundamentals such as a highly educated talent pool, rapid growth and substantial public and private investment.”
Other US investors looking to capitalize on the growing UK life sciences real estate include BioMed Realty, which owns sites at the Babraham Research Campus, and Creative Science Properties.
Trinity operates a network of science parks around the UK they call Knowledge Factory, offering collaborative spaces, small-scale manufacturing facilities as well as distribution and storage to tenants.
Teaming up with Harrison Street adds both sector experience and capital, the company said — and there are plans to acquire more locations.
They bought the £250 million portfolio from hedge fund Angelo Gordon, according to the FT.
With $25 billion in assets and a track record in student dorms and senior housing in addition to medical offices, Harrison Street recently waded deeper into the biotech pool by acquiring Osborn Triangle on the edge of the MIT campus. The three buildings in the complex houses seven tenants, including Pfizer, Novartis and LabCentral — an incubator that then subleases to its own crop of biotech startups.
Social image: Kent Science Park. Trinity