Hainan Airlines to take over stakes from its parent HNA
Hainan Airlines announced that it will take over some of the stakes owned by its parent conglomerate HNA Group amid financial troubles. Hainan will acquire controlling stakes in West Air, Guilin Airlines as well as maintenance, repair and overhaul service providers HNA Technic and SR Technics. In addition, the airline will take over Hainan Sky Plumage Flight Training, hotel investment and management platform HNA Hospitality Group and an unnamed overseas hotel operator Reuters report.
The change comes as part of massive restructuring to increase its capacity for raising finance to cover conglomerate’s increasing debts. The move will concentrate most of its aviation and travel businesses into one major subsidiary of the conglomerate, according to Aviation Week.
It was also reported that the conglomerate plans to sell some or its entire 25% stake of Park Hotels & Resorts , after Reuters report of HNA’s struggles to repay its debts as its aviation fuel bill hit $476 million on February 28th. New York Times report that overall debt now amounts to approximately $90 billion.
In addition, Financial Times report that HNA’s affiliate Hong Kong International Construction Investment released a profit warning ahead of its full year financial results expecting a substantial decrease in profits for 2017. The warning comes after heavily-leveraged HNA pledged almost 1.4 billion shares in HKICIM as collateral in late February, the magazine reported.
It was also reported that in a desperate attempt to raise money, HNA management sent out emails to its employees asking them to hand over $1,500 offering 8.5% return or a 40% return if the employees gave the conglomerate $15,000.
The financial troubles came few years after China’s private conglomerates went on an unprecedented overseas shopping spree back in 2016. As a result of China’s biggest companies, including HNA, came under scrutiny from China’s government over the stability of the financial system. China’s government is also cracking down on other private conglomerates including Dalian Wanda Group, Anbang Insurance and Fosum International.
As part of the crackdown, China’s government laid sown explicit rules restricting overseas investments in August, 2017 in a campaign against irrational acquisitions of assets. The authorities set out three categories -- banned, restricted and encouraged -- outlawing investments in gambling and sex industries, while backing companies to support the nation’s ambitious "Belt and Road" initiative backed by President Xi Jinping, Bloomberg reported.
Recently China’s debt has been increasing while the growth of the economy in the country has been significantly slowing down.
HNA’s debt-fueled spending spree involved acquiring assets valued over $40 billion, including shares in Hilton Worldwide Holdings and Deutsche Bank.
According to Financial Times, while companies can sell some of its assets to repay debts, HNA’s situation may be more complicated. Many of the conglomerate’s assets are already heavily leveraged, and shares of the listed companies have often been pledged to banks as collateral, making it difficult to assess the actual value of some of its assets.
In February S&P Global Ratings downgraded the credit profile of HNA Group and two of its units, including airline caterer Gategroup, citing a “deteriorating liquidity profile” Reuters reported.