China's HNA 'in talks to buy controlling CWT stake'

HNA Group chairman Chen Feng.
HNA Group chairman Chen Feng. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, which has been aggressively snapping up global assets, is in talks to buy a controlling stake in Singapore-listed logistics firm CWT in a deal worth around US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion), two people familiar with the matter said.

A deal could be announced as early as next week, the sources said.

In a filing with the Singapore Exchange yesterday, CWT said its controlling shareholder - C&P Holdings - has been approached by various parties relating to a strategic review of the business and assets. The shareholder told the CWT board that "the strategic review is still in progress", the statement said. An HNA spokesman declined to comment.

C&P flagged a potential sale of the business last year. It had drawn interest from major private equity firms, Reuters reported in August.

Under the stewardship of co- founder and chairman Chen Feng, HNA has grown into a group with nearly US$100 billion in assets. It operates more than a dozen airlines, including flagship Hainan Airlines, and has launched at least US$8 billion of overseas mergers and acquisitions so far this year.

CWT insiders, including the chairman and his family, own nearly 65 per cent of the company, Thomson Reuters data shows. Shares in CWT rose 5 per cent yesterday. The firm has expanded globally over the past decade snapping up a metals trading unit set up by Glencore in 2011.

Last month, a division of HNA agreed to buy the owner of the Radisson hotel chain. Chinese firms have been splurging on foreign acquisitions to sidestep slowing domestic growth. The total value of outbound acquisitions topped US$100 billion for the first time last year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2016, with the headline 'China's HNA 'in talks to buy controlling CWT stake''. Print Edition | Subscribe