Speaking after the group’s AGM in Dublin, chairman John Hennessy said that the board will actively look at the possibility of a dividend on the back of next year’s profit levels, but said that no decision has been made as yet.
He said Dalata will be fully invested by the end of this year, but to pay a dividend before that would be akin to giving back raised money to investors before seeing a return.
Dalata is the largest hotel operator in the country via its Maldron and Clayton brands.
It raised over €200m in equity last year and €282m in debt to fund expansion via hotel acquisitions, land buys for new builds and expansions of existing hotels.
It still has €100m to spend on its Irish expansion this year before it begins to turn its attention to expanding in the UK from 2018 onwards.
The group still has three Maldron hotels — in Cork, Dublin and Portlaoise — which it operates under lease arrangements in its acquisition sites and is targeting up to three more new build sites in Dublin and Cork.
It also hopes to build an additional 40 bedrooms at its existing Clayton Hotel in Ballsbridge and a similar number in its Maldron Hotel in Galway. It is also scaling back expansion plans, from 380 to 150 new rooms, at its Clayton Dublin Airport hotel.
Chief executive Pat McCann said the group would not be bidding for either the old Burlington Hotel in Dublin (currently trading under the DoubleTree by Hilton brand) nor the Lyrath Estate in Kilkenny.
He said the €140m value being put on the Burlington site is too high and is “not there for us at all”.
On the Lyrath, which is expected to fetch €20m, he said: “It’s a lovely property and would be lovely to own, but is not for us.”
Dalata, however, remains keen on gaining some presence in the Kilkenny area.
At the AGM, management defended executive pay levels and its use of a Dutch-based financing arm, which it said creates “a flexible financing structure” for its UK business.
Mr Hennessy said the group seeks to minimise tax costs where it can but doesn’t have an aggressive tax-avoidance policy.