Wheatley nets £100M finance deal for more affordable homes
Scotland’s largest housing, care and property management group has secured £100 million of new private investment as it drives forward the country’s largest house-building programme.
Wheatley Group’s debt investment deal with BlackRock Real Assets, one of the world’s leading investment firms, follows days after its financial outlook had been revised upward. In its annual review, S&P Global Ratings revised its forecast to “stable” from “negative”, while retaining Wheatley’s A+ credit rating for its £300 million public bond, issued in November, 2014.
Wheatley, which owns or manages 83,000 homes, will use the debt financing to help develop around 3500 new social and mid-market rented homes.
Wheatley Group Chairman Alastair MacNish said: “This new funding will enable us to press ahead with supplying thousands of new affordable homes and to continue delivering excellent services to the 200,000 people we work for across Scotland.”
Chief Executive Martin Armstrong hailed the deal as another huge vote of confidence in Wheatley and the social housing sector in Scotland. “We are continuing,” he added, “to combine the size and scale of the partner organisations within Wheatley to make a major contribution to addressing the shortage of affordable housing in Scotland.”
In the past two years, Wheatley has completed new-build developments ranging from Sighthill, North Toryglen, Scotstoun and Lambhill in Glasgow to Hallglen in Falkirk and Dalmuir in Clydebank. Work is also underway to build hundreds of new homes from Muirhouse and Craigmillar in Edinburgh to Ibrox and Castlemilk in Glasgow.
Jonathan Stevens, Head of European Infrastructure Debt at BlackRock, said: “This transaction is our second investment in the UK social housing sector. The provision of social housing is an essential service, and housing in Scotland and the rest of the UK is in short supply.
“We hope our investment makes a genuine contribution towards addressing this issue, while also providing our clients with an inherently stable, long-term cash-generating asset.”
In January, 2017, BlackRock Real Assets also closed a debt investment providing long-term financing to Trafford Housing Trust in Manchester.