A HAINAN Airlines official confirms an American investor has acquired 25 per cent of the airline but the acquisition has yet to clear official hurdles. The official said yesterday that Hainan Airlines was seeking approval from the Ministry of Finance and the China Securities Regulatory Commission, and its chairman and founder Chen Feng was in Beijing. No further details were available. Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) officials in Beijing said they had been given no information about the acquisition. It has been reported that an investment company set up by George Soros, a global investor, and his associates,bought the 25 per cent stake in the airline for US$25 million. This would be the first foreign investment in a Chinese state airline. Hainan Airlines foreign investment official Zhang Shanghui said: 'Over the past two years we have been talking to a number of prospective foreign partners but nothing has been finalised.' Hainan Airlines operates seven aircraft and flies routes to 21 Chinese cities from its base in Haikou, capital of Hainan province. Foreign investors were welcomed by China's civil aviation sector but the controlling stake must be owned by a state-owned entity, according to the instruction on foreign investment released by the government early this year. According to the reports, American Aviation Investment, owned by Phoenix Information Systems and the Chatterjee Group, won approval from the CAAC, the industry regulator, to buy the southern Chinese airline's shares.