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Student housing firm Unite Group expects to forgo rent for up to 65% of beds

BENGALURU: Unite Group Plc said on Wednesday it would see around 16-20% reduction in income for this academic year, as it plans to forgo rent on 43,000-46,000 beds for the summer semester due to the closure of universities and students giving up their accommodation due to the coronavirus crisis.

The student housing specialist, which is now fully drawn on its credit facilities and expects to qualify for Bank of England-backed financing, has also made further cuts in management wages and benefits, it said.

However, reservations across the group for the 2020-21 academic year are currently at 80%, slightly lower than the 81% during the same time last year, as Unite has seen healthy demand from UK students. It added that the group is also seeing enquiries from international students, but at a slower pace.

Its board has agreed to a 30% pay cut for executive directors, 10-20% for senior management and a 30% reduction in fees payable to non-executive directors for a period of four months.

The company said cost savings, along with deferral of some spending, will retain an extra 95 million pounds to 105 million pounds ($117.03 million to $129.29 million) in 2020.

It expects to receive an initial 50 million pounds to be made available under the Covid Corporate Financing Facility and said it is in talks with banks and potential new lenders on future funding requirements.

April 22, 2020

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