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CEO Spotlight: American Campus Keys on Internal Growth

11/15/2013 | By Allen Kenney

Bill Bayless, president and CEO of American Campus Communities (NYSE: ACC), joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview at REITWorld 2013: NAREIT’s Annual Convention for All Things REIT at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis.

Bayless said during the company’s third quarter earnings call that its upcoming focus would be on “internal value creation.” He discussed the thinking behind the company’s strategy in the near term.

“2013 was a big integration year for us,” Bayless said. “2014 is really a time for us to focus on margin improvement in the core real estate and also getting our management function in place to really harness the internal value of all the external growth that we did have late in 2012 and going into 2013.”

Bayless also offered some insight into managing relationships with the American Campus’ college partners.

“We focus on being at the premier, tier-one universities all across America,” he said. “Just by the nature of where we are focused, we’re geographically dispersed, always looking to enter the new markets. However, once you do have a foothold in that college market, the best way to have some of that internal growth is through the economies of scale within that same market.”

Bayless discussed the evolving expectations of student renters.

“Student housing was an ignored niche within real estate, so absentee landlords and low-quality products are what most of us experienced when we went to college,” he said. “What’s really taking place is the modernization of student housing, and it needed to occur. One, we just see a higher caliber of product that meets the needs of today’s students and parents. One of the big emerging trends is technology. We just opened a property this fall where we advertised a gigabyte-per-bed broadband Internet speed, fastest of any residential property in America. Technology is becoming a huge part of students’ lives.”