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Watchdog waives through £1.4bn deal by student housing firm Unite

By Simon Neville, PA City Editor

The competition watchdog has signed off on a £1.4 billion deal by student housing business Unite to buy Liberty Living from the Canadian pension fund.

Officials at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced a probe in September to look at whether the takeover would lead to a reduction in competition but on Wednesday decided to allow it to proceed.

The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) bought Liberty Living in 2015, and will now retain a 20% stake in the combined group as part of the move.

The consolidation deal will bring together a group which will manage a total of 73,000 beds across 173 properties with a total value of approximately £5.2 billion.

To fund part of the £800 million cash element of the deal, Unite tapped up investors for £240 million in the summer.

Unite said: “This deal brings together two highly complementary businesses who share a commitment to providing high quality, affordable student accommodation and a strategic alignment with universities where student demand is strongest.”

Bosses said they expect the deal to deliver cost savings of £15 million a year from 2021.

Unite chief executive Richard Smith and finance chief Joe Lister will continue in their respective roles in the combined group.