Life Science REIT: enabling investment in the real estate of life sciences

Listed in November 2021

Market: AIM

Strategy: Investment in Life Sciences Property

For more than 150 years, investors have looked to London’s investment funds market as a rich source of innovative growth and income opportunities. Last year, Life Science REIT became the first real estate investment trust focused on UK life science properties to list on the London Stock Exchange. Claire Boyle, Chair at Life Science REIT, explains how London’s markets have enabled Life Science REIT to implement its strategy at scale and pace.

What does the fund do and why has it been launched now?

The world’s major economies are devoting an increasing percentage of their GDP to life sciences. The UK Government has recently announced its Life Sciences Investment Programme which will increase its investment up to £1bn. Accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, we are witnessing strong growth and investment in the life sciences sector.

In turn, this is driving growth in the UK life science property sector. This includes wet and dry laboratories, mixed-use offices, communal and co-working hubs and data centres. It’s a sector with unique needs and yet, in the key life science clusters, there is an imbalance between real estate supply and demand.

This is the first UK listed REIT to be focused purely on the life sciences sector. The manager of the fund, Ironstone Asset Management, has long standing UK real estate sector experience. While billions have been invested in life sciences real estate in the US, the UK market is comparatively nascent. Our focus is on the Golden Triangle of London, Oxford and Cambridge; it’s a great opportunity.

Building Infrastructure

How much did the fund raise?

Initially, we hoped to raise up to £300m but we exceeded our goal and raised £350m. There was very broad investor interest, from financial institutions, pension funds and wealth managers.

Within two months of the IPO, we were able to invest the proceeds into assets across London, Oxford and Cambridge.

We have a portfolio of modern office developments in London’s St Pancras – one of the UK’s most significant life science hubs and close to organisations such as Google, DeepMind and the Francis Crick Institute – and in Harwell Campus, a world leading science and innovation campus outside Oxford. We have also secured 13,000 sq ft of laboratory space in central Cambridge and several premises in Cambourne Business Park – the premiere science park to the west of the city.

What opportunity does the fund offer that was not previously on the market?

You can’t buy a share in a laboratory, so the REIT provides an opportunity for investors to participate in the underlying life sciences sector.

In addition, life science tenants tend to stay longer in their premises because of their particular requirements and characteristics – which means Life Science REIT can offer investors the opportunity of an attractive level of total return, with the potential for net asset value growth as well as a growing yield over time.

What does the permanent capital structure enable the fund to do?

The listed fund has a close-ended structure which offers investors flexibility and liquidity; they can buy and sell shares without affecting the underlying assets in which we have invested.

We hope that we can come back to the market with further opportunities in this exciting sector.

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