HNA may be starting to rethink its airport investment plans
HNA, having played around the sector for the best part of a decade, is finding out the hard way that airport investment is perhaps a riskier business generally than it envisaged.
Indeed, through HNA Aviation, HNA Group is affiliated with 13 Chinese airlines, while holding stakes in foreign airlines in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America as well as being the instigator of the U-Fly Alliance of low cost airlines.
In the airport sector, HNA has been just as active. HNA Airport Group operates 16 airports across China, the most significant being Haikou Meilan International, which serves the capital of the Hainan province. It is providing construction, operation and management consulting services for the construction of the New Sanya Airport.
However, HNA is among a group of Chinese companies facing scrutiny after a flood of aggressive overseas investment, as the government seeks to stem capital flight from the country.
The company felt obliged to issue a statement that it will not default in 2018, pointing to difficulties arising from has several bonds and loans from multiple banks maturing at similar times, causing a “temporary liquidity” issue. However serious the problems, there does appear to have already been an impact on HNA’s aspiring airport investments. It appears to have lost out to Singapore’s Changi Airport Group to acquire Odebrecht’s 51% share of RIO galeão, the concessionaire responsible for Rio de Janeiro Galeão International Airport. It is also dropped out of a proposed consortium bid for the 25-year concession of Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport.
The future for HNA in this sector is difficult to predict accurately.
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