HNA Group shareholders to donate their shares to charity

The owner of Hainan Airlines denied claims in the Financial Times that its biggest shareholder is a ‘mysterious’ businessman

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 June, 2017, 8:20pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 June, 2017, 11:13pm

Chinese conglomerate HNA Group said its shareholders will donate their stakes to a charity as it denied claims that anyone linked to the government owned company stock.

A spokesperson said the company’s shareholders will gradually hand their shares over to the Hainan Province Cihang Foundation. The Chinese charity foundation, which currently controls 22.75 per cent of the company, is already the largest shareholder.

The statement came in response to a report published by the Financial Times on June 2, saying that HNA’s largest single shareholder is a “mysterious” businessman named Guan Jun, who was said to control 29 per cent of the company.

HNA responded by claiming that Guan is a “private investor” who does not work for the company.

In the latest development, the company told the Post on Friday that its largest shareholder is the Cihang Foundation, and not Guan Jun.

The group, which owns Hainan Airlines, has drawn public scrutiny of its ownership and financing of late after fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui claimed on Twitter that a relative of China’s anti-corruption tsar Wang Qishan benefited from a hidden shareholding in the firm.

According to HNA Group’s latest statement, no government officials or their relatives hold shares of the company. It filed a defamation lawsuit against Guo on Thursday for a raft of corruption allegations he has made, saying that they are “baseless” and “meritless”.

Hainan Airlines owner sues fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui for defamation

HNA Group said 70 per cent of the company’s shares are owned by Hainan Traffic Administration Holding, which in turn has half of its shares owned by Tang Dynasty Development (Yangpu) Company. As Cihang Foundation owns 65 per cent of Tang Dynasty, the charity indirectly controls 22.75 per cent of HNA Group’s shares.

HNA Group has proven itself to be China’s most acquisitive conglomerate in recent years, snapping up overseas assets with a series of acquisitions which amounted to US$40 billion.

It has expanded from its traditional business of aviation and logistics into financial services, betting on asset managers and consumer finance for growth at home and overseas.

In May, HNA Group became Deutsche Bank’s largest shareholder after raising its stakes to 9.9 per cent.

The conglomerate also responded on Friday to allegations accusing the group of reserving its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to serve exclusively high-level HNA officers and their clients.

HNA said the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aims to provide premium services and give all interested clients equal priority.