HNA vows disclosure of future shareholding changes

Mr Wang Shuang said HNA will continue to look for potential targets that could create value for the group.
Mr Wang Shuang said HNA will continue to look for potential targets that could create value for the group.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Chinese conglomerate makes $1.4 billion offer for Singapore logistics provider CWT

HONG KONG • HNA Group is committed to disclosures on future changes to its shareholding structure, the head of the conglomerate's international unit said yesterday, as longstanding concerns persist over who runs one of the most acquisitive Chinese buyers of overseas assets.

HNA has been in the spotlight together with other Chinese conglomerates for the billions of dollars they have splashed on marquee real estate properties and global brands, as Beijing cracks downs on what it deems are excessive deals.

The privately owned group, which has entered into US$50 billion (S$68.2 billion) worth of deals over the last two years, yesterday made a conditional general offer for logistics provider CWT, after tabling a pre-conditional offer in April.

HNA is offering S$2.33 in cash for each CWT share, in a deal that values one of Singapore's largest logistics groups at about S$1.4 billion.

Mr Wang Shuang, HNA Group's chief investment officer and chief executive of its international unit, said yesterday that while uncertainty over political and economic conditions has slowed the pace of outbound deals from China, HNA will continue to look for potential targets that could create value for the group.

He said the group does not expect any changes to its shareholding structure in the near future.

"If you are a private company, basically you do not need to disclose who is your shareholder. But since HNA is already a global conglomerate, our partners and investors, they are curious about who's controlling HNA Group," he told a conference in Hong Kong.

ABOVE BOARD

HNA Group tries to be transparent... we have nothing to hide.

MR WANG SHUANG, HNA Group's chief investment officer and chief executive of its international unit

In late July, the sprawling conglomerate announced a shareholding shake-up, saying a new New York-based charitable foundation would act as its single-biggest stakeholder with a 29.5 per cent stake, in a bid to quash concerns over its ownership.

" HNA Group tries to be transparent... we have nothing to hide," said Mr Wang, adding that the group will disclose such ownership changes on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, businessman Guo Wengui, who is being sued for defamation by HNA Group and is being sought by the Chinese authorities via Interpol, is seeking asylum in the United States in a process that will delve into political motivations for claims against him, his lawyer said.

Mr Guo lives in exile in the United States and has made allegations on YouTube and Twitter about high-level political corruption and sexual dalliances among China's elite. Some of those involve HNA Group.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2017, with the headline 'HNA vows disclosure of future shareholding changes'. Print Edition | Subscribe