HNA sells Wheelock third plot of Kai Tak land to repay borrowings, making a profit
With the sale of its third plot, HNA has raised a total of HK$21.53 billion, making a profit of HK$2.54 billion from the transactions
HNA Group, one of China’s biggest global asset buyers since 2012, has sold the third of its four plots of development land at Hong Kong’s former Kai Tak airport site, as it steps up its asset disposals to repay borrowings, under pressure from regulators and creditors.
The Hainan-based company sold the plot, bought in January 2017 for HK$5.53 billion, to Wheelock & Co. for HK$6.36 billion, netting a profit of HK$830 million from the 425,360 square feet site. Sales of the three plots for a combined HK$21.53 billion(US$2.74 billion) since February have earned HNA a net gain of HK$2.54 billion.
Wheelock, one of Hong Kong’s biggest builders of luxury homes and shopping centres, said its purchase is an opportunity to expand its property portfolio in Kai Tak, a waterfront area facing the Victoria Harbour. Wheelock already has a piece of land at Kai Tak, bought for HK$2.5 billion in 2014, on which it’s launching its Oasis Kai Tak apartments.
In February, HNA sold two pieces of land to Henderson Land Development for HK$16 billion, giving the Hong Kong developer its first foothold in Kai Tak. HNA made a profit of HK$1.7 billion from that sale.
HNA, laden with huge debt, has been looking for ways to pay down debt.
Earlier this week, Park Hotels & Resorts, the real-estate spin-off of Hilton Worldwide Holdings, said in a statement that HNA has priced a secondary offering of its 34.48 million shares at US$25.75 apiece. The deal, expected to close on March 9, will raise US$896.8 million.
HNA bought a quarter stake in Hilton Worldwide in 2016 from its biggest shareholder, the major US private equity firm Blackstone Group for US$6.5 billion, as part of more than US$40 billion overseas acquisitions by the group over the past three years .
HNA, which began as a regional airline in the Hainan provincial capital of Haikou, had been on a global shopping spree since 2015, lavishing an estimated US$31.9 billion buying golf courses, Kai Tak land, as well as stakes in Hilton Group, Deutsche Bank and Swissport. Much of that shopping was financed by borrowings.
The company was put on notice last year by Chinese regulators, concerned about the size of unfettered debt that’s been chalked up by the country’s freewheeling asset buyers. Earlier this week, HNA put its Hilton spin-off Park Hotels & Resorts on the market, in a sale that’s expected to raise US$896.8 million. The Chinese company paid Blackstone Group US$6.5 billion for 25 per cent of Hilton in 2016.
HNA will slash 100,000 jobs this year, or one in four positions globally, according to a report by Risk Event-Driven and Distressed Intelligence.