HNA pays $1bn for 20.92% in Dufry as ‘partners’ talk

By Doug Newhouse |

WDF Gatwick AirportThe Dufry Group reported today that China’s HNA Group has informed the Basle-based duty free and travel retailer that it has closed the acquisition of the 16.2% shareholding acquired from GIC and Temasek.

 

This notice effectively serves as formal confirmation of these share sales to HNA as per the agreements and subsequent transactions. As reported, these were originally announced by TRBusiness back in April of this year.

 

HNA INVESTMENT IS +$1BN IN DUFRY TO DATE…

As expected, this now takes HNA’s total shareholding in Dufry AG to 20.92% – based on HNA’s public disclosure which was widely publicised on 27 May. (Analysts and observers say HNA’s investment in its Dufry shareholding now exceeds well over $1bn based on the Basle-based company’s market capitalisation).

 

HNA and Dufry get close

(Left) HNA Group co-founder and Board Chairman Chen Feng and Dufry Group CEO Julián Díaz.

 

Interestingly, Dufry said today that it is already talking with HNA about ‘possible areas of collaboration’ and especially considering the Chinese conglomerate is already very active ‘in several tourism and travel-related sectors’.

 

Dufry said today that the main purpose of these talks is ‘to increase the share of wallet of domestic and international Chinese travellers’.

 

WILL HNA BE CONTENT WITH 20%?

Whether HNA will be content to explore its new relationship with Dufry rather than try to acquire additional shares with a view to gaining control of the retailer remains to be seen.

 

Where it all started for HNA with Hainan Airlines

Where it all started for the HNA Group, with Hainan Airlines.

The highly acquisitive HNA Group has shown a solid historic preference for buying controlling interests in companies in the past, although it remains to be seen whether this will be the case with Dufry.

 

Ironically, HNA only relatively recently disclosed its own ownership in a statement last July, although it wasn’t obliged to as a private company.

 

Major controlling shareholders now include two Hainan-based charities with 52.25% and the co-founder and board chairman Chen Feng with 14.98%. Chen Feng’s colleague Wang Jian shares his job title and also owns 14.98%.

 

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