The sale of iQ's student accommodation platform has sparked international interest, with the China Investment Corporation (CIC) and 3 other prospective buyers being shortlisted to buy the platform for £3.5bn.

The enthusiasm for this deal reflects the continuing strength of this market. Blackstone, Brookfield and Greystar have also made it onto the shortlist of potential buyers. 

The iQ platform has 67 assets totalling 28,000 beds across 27 UK cities, still a long way behind market leader Unite with over 70,000 beds. However, an investor such as Brookfield if successful in acquiring iQ would see their offering increased to more than 67,000 beds, putting them in a position to challenge the status quo of the market. 

This deal also offers buyers a springboard into the PRS and co-living sectors, and a way to capitalise on the innovative idea of retaining students as tenants after they leave university.

iQ's owners (Goldmans and Wellcome), conscious that a price of £3.5bn may not be achievable through a direct sale, are also considering an IPO as a fall back option.

It certainly is an exciting time for this maturing sector and very interesting to see CIC looking at such a large investment in the UK.