HNA selling $7.9b in assets to repay debts

HONG KONG • HNA Group, the once-voracious hunter of global trophy assets, is seeking to sell more than US$6 billion (S$7.9 billion) in properties worldwide as pressure intensifies for the Chinese conglomerate to speed up disposals so it can repay its debts.

The group yesterday said it had agreed to sell two plots of land in Hong Kong it bought less than a year ago, for HK$16 billion (S$2.7 billion) to the city's second-richest man.

HNA is also said to have been in talks to sell a pair of office buildings in London's Canary Wharf district it bought for more than US$500 million, and offering a raft of properties in the United States valued at about US$4 billion.

After spending tens of billions of dollars investing in big stakes in Deutsche Bank and skyscrapers in New York, the conglomerate that once symbolised China's insatiable appetite for global assets is reversing course after the government soured on overseas acquisitions and debts piled up beyond the company's means.

The group is said to have told creditors it could have a liquidity shortfall of at least 15 billion yuan (S$3.1 billion) this quarter and that it is targeting about 100 billion yuan in asset sales during the first half.

In Hong Kong, HNA plans to sell the properties to billionaire Lee Shau Kee's Henderson Land Development by today for about 12 per cent more than what local land registry records show HNA had spent.

Elsewhere, the Chinese conglomerate is selling properties valued at about US$4 billion - including the 245 Park Avenue skyscraper it bought less than a year ago for one of the highest prices ever paid for a building in New York - according to a marketing document seen by Bloomberg. The company is also looking to sell commercial properties in Chicago, San Francisco and Minneapolis.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2018, with the headline 'HNA selling $7.9b in assets to repay debts'. Print Edition | Subscribe