DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland's largest hotel operator Dalata Hotel Group <DHG.I> on Tuesday raised 94.4 million euros(84.02 million pounds) via a share placement to take advantage of opportunities arising from COVID-19 disruption, particularly in the United Kingdom.
The company said it had placed shares representing 19.9% of current issued share capital to help it secure leases at competitive terms in London, regional parts of Britain and Dublin where "growth opportunities remain compelling".
The placing should also enable it to mitigate any possible prolonged COVID-19 impact, it added. Dalata, which operates the Maldron and Clayton Hotel brands, had 110 million euros ($131.76 million) in cash and 111 million in undrawn committed debt facilities at the end of August.
"It is not for liquidity, it is to take advantage of opportunities we see beginning to arise," Dalata CEO Pat McCann told Reuters in a telephone interview.
Dalata's share price fell 4.7% by 14:55 GMT to 2.61 euros.
Dalata, which owns or leases 12 of its 44 hotels in the United Kingdom, said it operated at 30% occupancy across the group in July upon reopening from the COVID-19 lockdown and projected that to have risen to 40% in August, boosted by guests holidaying on their home soil.
It reported a 70.9 million euro first-half loss on Tuesday, mainly because of property revaluations and impairments on other assets significantly impacted by the pandemic.
The outlook for the near term is uncertain due to short lead times on bookings and uncertainty on international travel.
McCann said Dalata was looking at new ways to shore up demand, including offering students deals to stay in their hotels when they may only need to be in university one week a month due to COVID-19 restrictions.
"Normally at this time of the year, I would know the outcome for 2020 with a fair level of accuracy but at the moment I have no idea," McCann said. "The patterns that we would normally rely on no longer exist."
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Additional reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by Barbara Lewis)