CBRE to buy Telford Homes to tap into Britain's build-to-rent market

(Reuters) - U.S. real estate firm CBRE Group Inc CBRE.N said it would buy British property developer Telford Homes Plc TELF.L for about 267 million pounds ($336 million) in a bid to expand into Britain's apartment rental market.

The deal is an attempt to tap into the budding build-to-rent market in Britain, which is in its infancy compared to the United States where the segment has boomed over the decades.

The all-cash deal for 350 pence per share represents a premium of about 11% to Telford’s closing price on Tuesday. Telford shares rose 12% to 353 pence on London’s AIM market on Wednesday.

“The UK is in the early stages of a secular shift toward institutionally-owned urban rental housing, similar to what we have seen in the US over the last two decades,” CBRE Chief Executive Officer Bob Sulentie said in a statement.

In particular, Los Angeles, California-based CBRE sees Telford as an entry into the build-to-rent market in Britain’s capital, said Aynsley Lammin, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity.

“They’re seeing what’s happened in the U.S. and they would expect more build-to-rent properties in London over time,” Lammin said.

“London is a big international city and it is obviously going to be the area where that model makes the most sense.”

In a separate property deal announced on Wednesday, Student housing provider Unite UTG.L - in which a unit of CBRE holds a 1.7% stake - will acquire rival Liberty Living Group for 1.4 billion pounds ($1.76 billion).


After the completion of the deal, Telford will become a part of its Trammell Crow Company, a Texas-based real estate developer and property manager, which CBRE acquired in 2006. As of March 31, it had projects worth $9.7 billion in process.

CBRE said Telford CEO Jon Di-Stefano will continue to lead the business and the company’s board had agreed to vote in favor of the deal. It will now need the approval of a majority of Telford shareholders.

Telford in May reported a nearly 13% drop in annual profit for fiscal 2019 as it sought to navigate a Brexit-dampened London housing market with an increased focus on low-risk build-to-rent properties.

UK builders and developers have been struggling due to a slowdown in European growth and home buyers holding off for fear of further falls in house prices as the country faces uncertainty over plans to leave the European Union.

CBRE said its offer price is final, but that it reserves the right to raise it if another offer is made for Telford.

Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Deepa Babington