February 27, 2018 / 10:52 AM / 20 days ago

HNA to lead funds worth $3.2 billion for China's Belt and Road investments

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese conglomerate HNA Group’s unit HNA Capital said it will lead two funds totalling 20 billion yuan ($3.17 billion) that will focus on investments linked to the ambitious Belt and Road initiative of the world’s second-largest economy.

FILE PHOTO: A HNA Group logo is seen on the building of HNA Plaza in Beijing, China February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo/File Photo

Through these two funds, HNA Group’s financial arm will prioritise projects in the infrastructure, financial services and high technology sectors across Greater China and Southeast Asia, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

The company did not provide any other key details about the two funds, including how much it will invest in the funds or whether other investors would participate in them.

The move marks the latest effort of the indebted airline-to-property conglomerate to show support for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy, the Belt and Road initiative, which was introduced in 2013.

The initiative is aimed at building a modern-day economic “Silk Road”, connecting China by land and sea to Southeast Asia and Central Asia, and beyond to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Another HNA unit - HNA Innovation Finance, whose portfolio firms include Singaporean logistics provider CWT Ltd, told Reuters in January that it would focus on deals that are mapped out under Beijing’s Belt and Road scheme.

HNA Capital is the controlling shareholder of aircraft lessor Bohai Capital Holdings that acquired Irish peer Avolon Holdings in 2015.

In a separate statement, HNA Group said it would team up with Asia’s biggest warehouse operator, Global Logistic Properties, to build out a global logistics network and establish fund management firms to focus on areas such as aviation logistics.

Last July, GLP was acquired by a Chinese private equity-led consortium for $11.6 billion.

After announcing $50 billion of deals over two years, HNA has been in the spotlight together with other Chinese conglomerates, as Beijing cracked downs on what it deems excessive deals.

The group has also faced questions over its shareholding structure and debt.

S&P Global Ratings has downgraded the credit profile of the group and two of its units, citing a “deteriorating liquidity profile” as it faces mounting debt maturities this year.

HNA has been selling some of its assets to address its liquidity stress. Earlier this month, it announced a $2 billion deal for two Hong Kong land parcels, and sold part of its stake in Deutsche Bank.

($1 = 6.3061 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Julie Zhu; Additional reporting by Matthew Miller; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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