Reports of capital controls and falling investment numbers have raised doubts on the future of China’s wave of outbound real estate investment, but meddling bureaucrats and capital account figures seem to be no match for China’s high-flying HNA Group.
HNA Property Holdings, the New York-based subsidiary of the mainland transportation conglomerate is closing in on a deal to purchase 245 Park Avenue in Manhattan for $2.21 billion. The reported purchase which would rank among the most expensive single asset acquisitions in New York real estate history, according to a report today in Bloomberg.
Should the purchase of the 49-year-old tower be consummated, it would bring HNA’s portfolio of US property assets to more than $3.5 billion. Controlled by billionaire Chen Feng, HNA has now made more than $17 billion in cross-border acquisitions in the past 13 months.
HNA Buys Third Manhattan Asset
HNA is reportedly working with at least one partner to purchase the 1.7 million square foot (158,000 square meter) office tower from a joint venture between Brookfield Property Partners LP and the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System.
The reported purchase comes nearly one year after HNA teamed up with New York’s MHP Real Estate Services to make its second New York property acquisition, buying 850 Third Avenue in Manhattan for $463 million. HNA entered the New York market in 2011 by purchasing a 90 percent stake in 1180 Avenue of the Americas from Carlyle Group, with the remaining 10 percent stake in that Manhattan asset held by MHP.
The deal for the 48-storey Park Avenue tower would make HNA the landlord to a roster of high-end clients including private equity firms Angelo, Gordon & Co, and Ares Management, along with Holland’s Rabobank, JP Morgan Chase and Major League Baseball. The tower even has its own Wikipedia entry.
HNA has yet to comment publicly on the reported transaction and inquiries from Mingtiandi to company representatives had not been replied to by the time of publication.
Chinese Conglomerate Continues $17 Billion Buying Spree
The Chinese conglomerate, which is best known for establishing Hainan Airlines as the mainland’s first privately owned air carrier would add 245 Park Avenue to a US real estate portfolio that now includes a $360 million Chicago office tower, plus assets in Seattle, Minneapolis and San Francisco, in addition to its three New York properties.
Since February 2016, the parent company of China’s Hainan Airlines acquired tech firm Ingram Micro for $6 billion, spent an estimated $2 billion buying Minnesota-based Carlson Hotels, and teamed with RON Transatlantic EG to acquire a majority stake in SkyBridge Capital, the investment firm founded by Trump fund-raiser Anthony Scaramucci.
HNA has also become a major player in Hong Kong’s hyperactive real estate market, purchasing more than HK$27 billion ($3.5 billion) in development sites since November last year, often at rates far above analyst estimates.
No Capital Controls Here
The group, which is said to enjoy the support of mainland state banks, China Development Bank and Eximbank, also does not seem to have suffered from capital controls which have caused difficulties for major developers Dalian Wanda Group and Country Garden Holdings.
Strict supervision of capital outflows by Chinese authorities took the blame for Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda group’s failed attempt to acquire Dick Clark Productions for $1 billion, which fell apart earlier this month when the Beijing-based developer reportedly failed to meet the terms of its purchase agreement.
Just last week, Hilton Hotels Group announced that HNA had closed on its $6.5 billion purchase of a 25 percent stake in the hotel management firm from Blackstone – finalising a deal signed last October. The most recent of HNA’s Hong Kong site acquisitions also came last week, committing the company to arranging a HK$7.44 billion ($958 million) purchase beyond mainland borders.