Acquisitive HNA discloses ownership amid regulatory scrutiny

HNA has disclosed its ownership for the first time after questions over its opaque shareholding structure and regulatory checks on overseas acquisitions.

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 July, 2017, 12:10am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 July, 2017, 8:38am

Conglomerate HNA Group has disclosed its ownership list for the first time following questions over its opaque shareholding structure and the Chinese government clampdown on overseas acquisitions.

The company, based in the Hainan provincial capital of Haikou, has expanded since its founding in 1993 with just four aircraft to almost 2,000 planes under operation and management. In the process, it also went on a global buying spree, owning one trillion yuan (US$146 billion) of assets, including stakes in Hilton Worldwide Holdings and Deutsche Bank.

In a statement released on July 24, HNA said it counted Hainan Province Cihang Foundation, Hainan Cihang Charity Foundation, 12 individual shareholders and Hainan Airlines Holding as its shareholders.

Businessman Guan Jun, mentioned in a June 2 Financial Times article as among the company’s mysterious shareholders, was not listed.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post last month, Chen Feng, the founder of one of China’s most aggressive buyers of global assets, said Guan “holds a tiny stake in the company” but was not a significant shareholder.

The two charities own 52 per cent of HNA collectively. One is set up in New York and the other is established under the Hainan provincial government. Chen and HNA co-founder Wang Jian are directors of Hainan Province Cihang Foundation. According to the statement, Chen and Wang hold the highest stakes with 14.98 per cent each.

The statement also said Guan had donated the shares to the charity and no longer holds any stake in the company.

HNA said in the statement that while it is a private company with no obligation to disclose its ownership, it would “respect and appreciate the desire for transparency in this regard”.

The disclosure follows Bloomberg reports that several Chinese banks that helped fund HNA’s global acquisition spree are losing their appetite for financing the company.

Several of China’s biggest offshore asset buyers – including Anbang Insurance, Fosun International, HNA and Dalian Wanda Group – have been placed under regulatory scrutiny since mid-June after the China Banking Regulatory Commission ordered banks to check their offshore exposure to these companies.

Since 2016, the Chinese government has intensified its efforts to deter capital flight and crack down on money laundering.