Apr 19, 2018 04:50 AM

HNA Offloads Stake in Hong Kong-Listed Bank

HNA Group has stepped up assets sales amid concerns over debt. Photo: VCG
HNA Group has stepped up assets sales amid concerns over debt. Photo: VCG

China’s once acquisitive HNA Group sold its holdings in a Guangzhou bank in the group’s latest asset sale following a years-long global buying spree that left it with huge debt.

Documents from the Hong Kong stock exchange showed that Aerial Wonder Co., a unit of HNA, sold all 295 million shares it held in Hong Kong-listed Guangzhou Rural Commercial Bank for HK$1.5 billion ($191 million). The shares were sold in two batches over the past week and represent a 3.1% stake in the bank.

Aerial Wonder was one of the cornerstone investors in Guangzhou Rural Commercial Bank when it made an initial public offering in Hong Kong in June 2017.

Hong Kong exchange documents show that the buyers include state-baked Guangzhou Finance Holdings Group.

HNA has stepped up efforts to offload assets in Hong Kong since the beginning of this year amid concerns over its debt overhang. In February and March, HNA’s Hong Kong-based unit HKICIM Group sold three land plots in the city for a combined HK$22.3 billion. The plots were acquired in 2016 and 2017 for residential project development.

HKICIM currently owns another parcel in Hong Kong that it bought in March 2017 for HK$7.4 billion. The company said it has no plan to sell that plot.

Public records from the Hong Kong Land Registry indicated that HNA has also sold an office space at the landmark Lippo Centre for HK$40 million.

Reuters reported this week that Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings showed interest in acquiring HNA’s Hong Kong-based air carriers, Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express Airways. The two airlines declined to comment.

Hainan-based HNA has been one of the most aggressive Chinese dealmakers in recent years, targeting global assets mostly in its core business of tourism and travel. The company made global headlines in 2016 when it paid $6.5 billion for a 25% stake in U.S. hotel giant Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and acquired high-tech parts distributor Ingram Micro for $6 billion.

But HNA has started to pare back its assets since last year after Beijing launched a clampdown on debt-driven overseas acquisitions by Chinese firms.

Earlier this month, HNA said in a regulatory filing that it plans to sell down its stake in Hilton. That stake is worth about $6.6 billion, based on Hilton’s latest market capitalization. HNA also announced plans to sell its Avolon Aerospace Leasing Ltd. unit for $884 million and two real estate-related companies in its home province of Hainan for about $300 million.

Contact reporter Han Wei (

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