March 2, 2018 / 10:58 AM / a year ago

China's HNA Group aims to sell up to $1.4 billion stake in Park Hotels

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese conglomerate HNA Group plans to sell some or all of its 25 percent stake in Park Hotels & Resorts, the U.S. hotel chain said in a filing, potentially reaping up to $1.4 billion to help tackle its liquidity crunch.

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

The move is the latest in HNA’s drive to restructure its far-flung operations, while raising cash by selling equity and prime real estate assets. Among its recent divestments are a Sydney office tower and two plots of land in Hong Kong.

The aviation-to-financial services conglomerate is racing to raise cash following a $50 billion acquisition spree over the past two years, which has sparked scrutiny of its opaque ownership and use of leverage.

Some of its peers, including Anbang Insurance Group, are facing similar pressures. Last week, the Chinese government announced it was taking control of Anbang, saying it violated laws and regulations.

HNA bought a 25 percent stake in Hilton Worldwide Holdings from Blackstone Group in 2016. As a result of that, it also built a similar stake in Hilton’s two spun-off units - Park Hotels and Hilton Grand Vacations.

A 25 percent stake in Park Hotels is currently valued at $1.4 billion.

The HNA stake sale could be done via one or more public offerings, said the Park Hotels filing to the U.S. securities regulator on Friday, adding the “exact timing, manner and terms of any such sale” would depend on market conditions.

HNA declined to comment beyond the filing by Park Hotels.

The Hilton acquisition was one of several overseas hotel deals by Chinese companies seeking to tap big-spending Chinese tourists.

Such deals have slowed significantly as Beijing cracks down on flashy investments in things like foreign football clubs, movie studios and luxury properties to curb the flow of capital out of the country.

Park Hotels has a portfolio of hotels and resorts in places including New York, Washington, Chicago and San Francisco. It also owns a range of properties adjacent to airports in the United States.

Reporting by Matt Miller and Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Stephen Coates and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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