(Yicai Global) March 21 -- HNA Group Co. has sold its landmark project in the central business district of its home city to Guangzhou R&F Properties Co. for CNY31.3 billion (USD4.95 billion) as part of the Chinese conglomerate’s efforts to plug a cash shortfall.
The development, still under construction, was regarded as one of the crown jewels of the Haikou-based group’s portfolio after it poured more than CNY100 billion into the project over the past decade, reported online news outlet The Paper. R&F Properties, based in Guangdong province, declined to comment on the transaction.
The project is the sole well-established large-scale development in downtown Haikou, capital of China’s southern island province of Hainan. It will also become home to the province’s tallest skyscrapers, a 429-meter-high twin tower project.
HNA Group, which has interests in aviation, real estate and financial services, is trying to raise cash following a USD50 billion splurge on acquisitions in the past two years that sparked a regulatory investigation into its borrowing and ownership structure. As of March 15, the group had sold off six projects this year including in Hong Kong and New York, totaling CNY21.5 billion, while also divesting stakes worth CNY9.8 billion in companies such as Hilton Grand Vacations Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG.
In an interview with Reuters in January, HNA Chairman Chen Feng acknowledged that the group is struggling with liquidity due to the maturity of debts incurred through acquisitions in recent years. Based on data from the group, its total debt now stands at about CNY250 billion (USD39.4 billion). China’s financial authorities have intensified a crackdown on risky financing and capital outflow since last year, putting many Chinese companies under pressure.
HNA Group has contracted with major real estate consultants Jones Lang Lasalle Inc. and Cushman & Wakefield, for services related to the sale of more assets abroad, the Hong Kong Economic Times reported on March 14. The group is also seeking buyers for offices in New York, London and San Francisco as well as its resorts in French Polynesia, the Wall Street Journal said on March 13.