Oxford: L&G commits £4b to Oxford Uni partnership focused on homes and innovation districts

Pioneering 50:50 partnership aims to build out the infrastructure in Oxford to enable the University to continue to attract research graduates and businesses, writes Paul Norman of CoStar.

 

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Legal & General has formed a 50:50 partnership with Oxford University to develop homes for University staff and students, together with science and innovation districts in and around Oxford.

As funding and development partner for the University, Legal & General’s Future Cities business will provide up to £4 billion of funding over the next 10 years from Legal & General’s shareholder, annuity and LGIM-managed funds.

The partners said the funding will, subject to planning, deliver a series of projects for the University, including the development of homes for University staff and students, and the creation of science and innovation districts, with what they described as modern workspace and research facilities.

The long-term development will see the partners bringing forward the housing in phases. For the initial wave they are looking to deliver 1,000 subsidised home for university and college staff, 1,000 units of graduate accommodation, and 1,000 market homes. Subsequently they will fund and develop a series of projects providing student accommodation, University staff/key worker housing and science parks/academic facilities.

The partners see the tie up as a “game-changer” both for the cCity and local economy, but also for other university cities that could follow the model globally.

The idea is that it enables the right infrastructure to be developed to enable a leading University to grow in a city with affordability issues on a par with London. For L&G it also makes commercial sense to invest its shareholders’ multi-decade capital to develop real assets, and then use this to back de-risked pensions as well as for LGIM funds.

Explaining the tie up L&G said: “With its world-class university, Oxford is one of the UK’s fastest growing cities and competes among the top technology clusters in the world. The city however lacks affordable residential and commercial space that is essential for the University to continue to attract research graduates, and support spin-out and scale-up businesses. Accelerating Oxford’s potential by addressing these challenges is the fundamental ambition of the Partnership.”

Professor Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, said in a statement: “My colleagues and I are delighted to have formed this partnership with Legal & General. We look forward to working together to address some of the most pressing challenges facing the University today. We will build much-needed graduate accommodation, subsidised housing for University staff, and new science parks, where academic departments, University spin-outs and commercial partners can work together to create new companies as well as high quality jobs.”

Nigel Wilson, CEO of Legal & General Group, added: “Oxford University is one of the best in the world. It has inspired generations of academics and researchers, and today nurtures outstanding modern businesses with world-leading potential. Our partnership with Oxford University is leading the way in bringing together dynamic cities and patient capital, creating great outcomes for long-term investors and for the cities themselves. Legal & General’s partnership with the University is a terrific example for cities across the globe to follow.”

John Cummins, managing director of Legal & General’s Future Cities business, said: “Universities are a key driver for the growth of cities, acting as a magnet for talent and incubator of growth and innovation. They have an integral role in shifting the dial for future success. Great universities also need an economic, physical and digital infrastructure to create an ecosystem to attract people and businesses. Any new discovery depends not just on the academics but on the infrastructure supporting them. This partnership is a unique opportunity for two large and long-term UK institutions to work together to address Oxford University’s, and indeed the city’s, future needs, enabling it to continue to be a centre of growth.”

Legal & General’s Future Cities business works with partners, such as Oxford University, to create real assets to “help futureproof the local economies of cities”. While it is part of Legal & General Capital (LGC), Legal & General Future Cities through this JV will not only be investing shareholder funds but also creating assets for Legal & General Retirement (LGR) to back pension risk transfer deals and LDI-compatible assets that can form part of LGIM-managed funds.

It explained: “The Oxford University Partnership illustrates Legal & General’s three-legged asset-centric strategy of asset funding (LGR), asset management (LGIM) and asset creation (LGC). ”

Legal & General has invested over £19b in direct investments to back annuities (pension risk transfer) and shareholder funds.

To date Legal & General’s Future Cities business has funded the creation of over 2.5m sq ft of commercial space, over a thousand new homes and tens of thousands of jobs, in cities such as Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Salford. Legal & General’s most recent Future Cities investments include its partnership with Bruntwood to create the UK’s largest property platform dedicated to driving science and technology growth in cities, its partnership with Goldacre to develop and manage data centres, and the regeneration of Bath’s riverside at Bath Quays North. Legal & General Capital also has investments in the Oxford spinout company, OSI, and in Oxford-based companies specialising in innovative clean energy solutions.