Bridges and Regus join forces on £84m Evans Easyspace portfolio
- The portfolio comprises 50 business centres offering a range of serviced office, light industrial and self-storage units
- Regus acquired the portfolio last year and will continue to manage it on the existing flexi-leasing model
- The acquisition is the fifth by Bridges’ new Property Alternatives fund
Bridges Ventures (“Bridges”), the specialist sustainable and impact investor, has agreed to buy the Evans Easyspace portfolio from Regus, the UK-listed serviced office provider, for £84 million, while retaining Regus as its long-term operating partner.
The Evans Easyspace portfolio comprises 50 properties, which are run as serviced office centres, light industrial/workshop units and self-storage. The portfolio is spread across the UK, with a concentration in the Midlands, North and Scotland.
The properties are specifically designed to cater for SME occupiers, with approximately 2,000 tenants across the portfolio. They typically occupy prominent sites on the best business parks and industrial estates in each location. Most offer high-quality accommodation and amenities for tenants, including cafés, meeting rooms and high-speed broadband.
Regus acquired the Evans Easyspace portfolio in April 2014 and has substantially improved occupancy and net income in the period since. Following the sale, Regus will continue to run the portfolio under a management contract with Bridges.
Bridges will acquire the freehold and long leasehold interests via its Property Alternatives Fund, which held a first close of £125m last year and targets investments in niche sectors, regeneration areas and buildings showing environmental leadership.
This is the fifth deal from the fund; previous investments include Barclays House, which is being comprehensively refurbished to provide office space for SME occupiers in Leeds, and The Old Vinyl Factory, a residential development in Hayes forming part of the regeneration of the old EMI factory.
The acquisition of the Evans Easyspace portfolio is in line with Bridges’ long-standing focus on supporting SME businesses, particularly in underserved areas. Previous Bridges deals in this sector have included The Office, a specialist provider of flexible office space that was sold for a 2x return in 2010; and more recently, 158-170 Edmund Street, two adjacent office buildings in Birmingham, which were sold in December to F&C UK Property Fund for £11.65m, reflecting a yield of 5.75%.
The firm believes this investment has the potential to create additional workspace in existing buildings, supporting local business growth and employment. In keeping with its focus on sustainability, Bridges and Regus will also look to improve the properties’ environmental performance, and will explore the possibility of tracking and reducing energy usage.
Tom Tyler, Investment Director for the Bridges Property Alternatives fund, said:
“We are delighted to have acquired this high-quality business space portfolio. Flexible leasing and fixed inclusive pricing are particularly attractive to SME occupiers, and we look forward to working with Regus, the global leader in this sector, to improve the offer to customers. We and Regus will also seek opportunities to enlarge the portfolio through further acquisitions with a focus on locations where there is currently no representation.”
Richard Morris, CEO of Regus UK, said: “We are very pleased to be working together with Bridges as their long-term partner in this project and we are confident that the type of arrangement we have agreed will be playing to the strengths of both parties. Our service model can add significant value to portfolios of this nature and we will continue to seek further opportunities of this type.”
Notes to editors
About Bridges Property Alternatives
Bridges Property Alternatives invests either directly or via joint ventures in property and property-backed operating businesses. It targets niche real estate opportunities driven by demographic shifts and changing consumer needs in areas like healthcare, education, SME business space and affordable residential accommodation.
About Bridges Ventures
Bridges Ventures LLP (“Bridges”) is a specialist fund manager focused exclusively on sustainable and impact investing – using commercial investment strategies to generate attractive financial returns alongside positive social and environmental impact. In the last 12 years, it has demonstrated that by using impact as a lens to identify and engage with investments, it’s possible to deliver outstanding returns both for investors and for society as a whole. The firm manages nearly £500m across its Sustainable Growth, Property and Social Sector funds.
Regus is the global workplace provider.
Its network of 3000 locations in 120 countries provides convenient, high-quality, fully serviced spaces for people to work, whether for a few minutes or a few years. Companies like Google, Toshiba and GlaxoSmithKline choose Regus so that they can work flexibly and make their businesses more successful.
The key to flexible working is convenience and so Regus is opening wherever its 1.5million members want support – city centres, suburban districts, shopping centres and retail outlets, railway stations, motorway service stations and even community centres.
Founded in Brussels, Belgium, in 1989, Regus is based in Luxembourg and listed on the London Stock Exchange. For more information, please visit: www.regus.com