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BUSINESS & TECH

HNA Group Fires Co-Founder and Head of Tourism Unit

By Huang Rong and Denise Jia
HNA Group removed the head of its tourism unit and reshuffled the leadership at several airline subsidiaries. Photo: Visual China
HNA Group removed the head of its tourism unit and reshuffled the leadership at several airline subsidiaries. Photo: Visual China

China’s investment and aviation conglomerate HNA Group removed the head of its tourism unit, which runs HNA’s flagship Hainan Airlines, in a major leadership reshuffle.

Xin Di was ousted as chairman and chief executive officer of HNA Tourism Group Co. and as board member of HNA Group, according to an internal notice by HNA. Xin’s profile page was deleted from the company’s website.

A person close to the matter said this was probably the most severe step HNA had ever taken involving a senior executive. HNA rarely fires high-ranking executives and instead usually transfers them to other positions after several months of training, according to the source.

Xin, 59, was one of HNA’s founders. He joined Hainan Airlines in 1992.

HNA Tourism oversees HNA’s core airline holdings, along with its travel agency and hotel businesses.

HNA also reshuffled the leadership at its several airline subsidiaries, sources close the matter told Caixin.

“HNA has adjusted some management positions to meet actual operations demands,” the company said in a statement. The company described the move as a “normal personnel adjustment.”

HNA has launched an internal probe of its tourism unit, but it isn’t clear what prompted the investigation, which was reported by several sources.

In May, Beijing Capital Airlines, a subsidiary of HNA, suspended several executives, including its chairman, president and financial chief. Sources said that move was related to financial issues. Most of those executives later resumed their positions.

As one of China’s most aggressive dealmakers in recent years, HNA has spent heavily on overseas assets ranging from airports to hotels to financial service companies. Last year, it offered $6.5 billion for 25% of the U.S. hotel giant Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., and in 2015 it purchased aircraft-leasing specialist Avolon Holdings Ltd. for $2.5 billion.

The most recent major deals include its April purchase of 16.8% of Dufry Group, the world’s largest travel retailer, and the $994 million acquisition of Singaporean logistics company CWT Ltd.

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