China's HNA in final talks to buy Germany’s Hahn airport

Owner of Hainan Airlines has been active in the travel industry, buying caterers Gate Group, a stake in Servair, plus hotels group Hilton

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 January, 2017, 5:28pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 January, 2017, 10:45pm

China’s HNA is extending its overseas merger and acquisitions spree with plans to purchase Hahn airport in western Germany.

The proposed deal marks the latest in a string of overseas acquisitions by the ambitious privately run Chinese conglomerate which, under the stewardship of chairman Chen Feng, has grown into a group with more than 600 billion yuan in assets as of September 2016 .

The deal, if it goes ahead, will help take the owner of Hainan Airlines a step closer to becoming one of the world’s top 100 companies.

HNA is in finals talks to buy the German airport as part of the group’s global expansion, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.

HNA has teamed up with local German company ADC, run by former politician Siegfried Englert, for the bid, according to Reuters.

The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate had previously agreed to sell loss-making Hahn airport, a former military base now used mainly by Ryanair. Rhineland Palatinate owns an 82.5 per cent stake in Hahn, with the rest owned by the neighbouring state of Hesse, Reuters said.

Three bids had been received in the latest sale process, and after auditors had reviewed the offers Rhineland-Palatinate had decided to enter into final-stage negotiations with ADC and HNA, Reuters quoted the owner group as saying.

Hahn is around 120 kilometres from Frankfurt, Germany’s largest airport, but unlike Frankfurt, it has a 24-hour operating licence, making it attractive for freight flights.

HNA , which was founded in 1993 with businesses spanning from aviation and tourism to property and ecotech, has been snapping up global acquisitions. Recent deals include its purchase of caterers Gate Group for US$1.4 billion, and a stake in the Hilton hotels group.

Last February it announced it was buying US-listed electronics distributor Ingram Micro for US$6 billion. The previous year it announced the US$2.5 billion purchase of Irish aircraft lessor Avolon Holdings.

As of September 2016, the company had total overseas investment assets of more than 230 billion yuan through investments in 17 countries and regions.

Sources said the acquisition of Ingram Micro had pushed HNA closer to becoming one of the world’s top 100 companies.

In 2015, HNA Group reaped revenues of nearly 190 billion yuan and had almost 200,000 employees worldwide. In July last year it was listed among the Fortune Global 500 once again, ranking No. 353 with annual revenue of US$29.56 billion.

The company came under the spotlight when it outbid Hong Kong developers for the purchase of two government sites at the former Kai Tak airport for more than HK$14 billion.