UEA raises £175m to support estate capital programme

The deal will unlock the next stage of the University of East Anglia's campus investment, including the refurbishment of the Grade II-listed Lasdun Wall

The University of East Anglia (UEA) has completed a £175m transaction that will provide incremental financing to support a programme of investment in teaching and research facilities, as well as refinance existing debt on improved terms. The funding will unlock investment plans, including the refurbishment of the university’s Grade II-listed Lasdun Wall, designed by Sir Denys Lasdun and completed in 1970. Preliminary works are already underway, with comprehensive refurbishment of the wall scheduled for 2022.

The financing package involves a £75m 30-year private placement with existing lender, Barings, alongside a £100m 10 year revolving credit facility from Natwest. As part of the deal, the university has moved all its debt finance to a fully unsecured position.

Professor David Richardson, UEA Vice-Chancellor, said: “We are building a university of the future through our bold UEA 2030 Vision, which includes a major programme of investment in state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities for our staff and students on our Norwich campus. With the long-term support of our lending partners, we can start a pivotal phase of that development and refurbish our much-loved Lasdun Wall. The flexible and competitive financing package reflects UEA’s position as a leading university and lenders’ confidence in our plans.”

Marc Finer, Director and Head of Higher Education Debt Advisory at KPMG, advised on the deal. He said: “The terms of the deal, which saw UEA extending its maturity profile and lowering its cost of debt, reflects strong lending appetite among bank and capital markets lenders for university credit.

“Like UEA, many universities are making considerable investments in their operations and facilities, and we expect more institutions to head to the debt markets to support their strategic plans. But with financial sustainability and value for money firmly in focus, the best deals are likely to be done by universities that take the time to consider a wide range of financing options to ensure they find the most appropriate solution for their specific circumstances.”