Hammerson 'interested' in buying Clerys if it goes on sale
The head of UK-headquartered shopping centre giant Hammerson's Irish operation has said his company would be interested in acquiring Clerys if the former department store was put up for sale again.
Responding to a question from the Irish Independent following yesterday's publication of Hammerson's results for 2017, Simon Betty said while Hammerson always prioritised investment in its portfolio ahead of new acquisitions, Clerys would be of interest to it were it to be offered to the market.
"I've heard the speculation [about Clerys being readied for sale]. We obviously screen our markets carefully," he said. "Anything that comes on with a retail angle is interesting to us. We've already had the investment in Dublin 1, so in that respect it would be strategically consistent, but it's a bit hypothetical at the moment."
"When we think about investment decisions, we always prioritise investment in our own portfolio through refurbishments, reconfigurations, and all of those opportunities to deploy capital come ahead of new acquisitions. But if it [Clerys] were to come to the market obviously, given its location, we would have a look at it."
Asked for comment on the Court of Appeal's decision to overturn a declaration that buildings and sites on and around Moore Street are a 1916 Rising battlefield site and a national monument, Mr Betty said this cleared away some impediments to Hammerson's plans for the development of its Dublin Central portfolio.
However, he said the process would ultimately be "unlocked by collaboration and involvement with the various relatives' associations in trying to find a negotiated settlement rather than going at each other in the courts". Hammerson reported a 6.9pc rise in net rental income for the year to December 31 last to £370.4m (€420.3), up from £346.5m a year earlier. The figures boosted pre-tax profit, which grew by more 28pc to £413.4m.
Hammerson's Irish division, which includes the Dundrum Town Centre, was one of the biggest drivers of growth in net rental income, having nearly tripled from £12.5m in 2016 to £34.8m last year.