China’s HNA Group Is Looking to Offload Billions in Overseas Property Amid Worries About Its Debt
Chinese HNA Group is offloading commercial properties in major cities as it looks to pay off the debt that has funded over $40 billion worth of acquisitions since 2015.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the sharp reversal of the company’s recent buying spree, which resulted in more than 80 deals in recent years—from large stakes in Deutsche Bank (DB), the Hilton (HLT) hotel chain, and many of other businesses—comes about as the company’s liquidity has come under pressure and borrowing costs have increased, causing investors to grow concerned about the company’s ability to pay off tens of billions in debt that comes due next year.
The group will look to sell properties in New York, London and others, including prime office towers in Midtown Manhattan, London’s Canary Wharf and San Francisco’s Mission District, as well as resorts in French Polynesia and buildings in Australia, according to the WSJ, citing a person familiar with the matter.
HNA Group owns roughly $14 billion worth of commercial real estate globally, according to Real Capital Analytics. The assets being considered for sale comprise a large portion of its overseas portfolio, which came under scrutiny from Chinese regulators in 2017, because of how quickly the deals were made. As a result, the Chinese conglomerate’s CEO said in late November that the company was considering asset sales in sectors the Chinese government deemed concerning, such as overseas real estate. The company then slowed its pace of acquisitions, and since has pursued smaller deals, says the WSJ.
HNA was paying significant sums for properties as recently as 2016, such as the City Center skyscraper in downtown Minneapolis—which houses offices of Target (TGT) and retail stores Marshalls and Brooks Brothers. Other properties have been in its portfolio for years, including a building at 1180 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan and the plot of land that Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak airport used to sit on.