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海航对外投资“逆风起飞”
HNA deal spree defies China crackdown

2017-4-17 10:08| 发布者: 忘忧草| 查看: 140| 评论: 0

摘要: When Chinese regulators slammed the brakes on overseas dealmaking late last year, many of the country’s most prolific acquirers saw their global ambitions come to a screeching halt.But one company ha ...
When Chinese regulators slammed the brakes on overseas dealmaking late last year, many of the country’s most prolific acquirers saw their global ambitions come to a screeching halt.

But one company has kept on buying as even as Chinese mergers and acquisitions dropped to a three-year low in the first quarter of 2017: HNA Group.

After starting in 1989 as a Hainan-based private airline operator, HNA has in recent years transformed into a sprawling holding company, with a reputation as China’s most omnipresent overseas acquirer, striking deals worth $40bn in the past 28 months, according to a Financial Times analysis of Dealogic data.

HNA’s deal spree touches listed and private companies and spans sectors ranging from tourism and logistics to finance and real estate. The company is particularly influential in aviation, with stakes in at least 10 airlines, predominantly in China, but also in Brazil and South Africa, a collection of airports and the world’s third-largest aircraft leasing business.

Since the start of the year, HNA has announced 12 transactions in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong, according to Thomson Reuters data. Among them was a high profile deal to become the biggest shareholder in the US’s SkyBridge Capital, founded by Anthony Scaramucci, a prominent supporter of Donald Trump. It also separately accumulated a 4.78 per cent stake in Deutsche Bank, Germany’s most important financial institution.

HNA’s presence on Wall Street’s social calendar has also loomed increasingly large: some of the financial sector’s biggest names gathered in February at the Jewish Museum’s annual Purim Ball to honour HNA’s chairman Wang Jian for his philanthropy.

Steve Schwarzman, the chief executive of Blackstone and an economic adviser to Mr Trump, feted Mr Wang in front of a crowd that included the hedge fund moguls Dan Och and John Paulson along with senior bankers Paul Taubman and Robert Pruzan.

However, several financiers that have worked directly with or across from the group privately confess that they are astonished by HNA’s appetite for overseas assets at a time when Beijing is clamping down on capital flight and non-core M&A.

“It definitely doesn’t feel like there is a strategy to be honest,” says one of these people. “In dealing with Chinese clients, you often run into a different [business] philosophy or even discover that buyer doesn’t have a strategy, but the difference here is the quantum [of deals] and the quantums at which they are buying. It’s very surprising.”

HNA has plenty of critics who question whether the group can integrate its acquisitions while bidding for more. It has 51 pending transactions in China and overseas, Dealogic data shows. In the process, HNA’s parent group has racked up $13.2bn in outstanding US dollar debt, according to the data.

One banker who knows the group argues that its activity can be explained by Chinese state media photos from 2015 that show HNA’s Buddhist co-founder Chen Feng with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president. Those pictures, he says, have been interpreted as sign that the group has implicit state endorsement.

Others argue that HNA has focused on specific industries and has been disciplined in bidding for assets that fits its plan.

They say that HNA has sought to assemble a top-down air transport servicer, through the buyouts of the cargo-handler Swissport International, the flight caterer Gategroup Holdings and an airport in Germany. It has followed a similar pattern in logistics, buying ground and air cargo assets.

Moreover, people close to HNA say that the group has started to fine-tune its strategy to bring itself more in line with Chinese policy. They say its recent dealmaking has generally seen HNA spend less than $1bn on each target, the threshold at which China’s foreign exchange watchdog is said to increase scrutiny of outbound deals.

In addition to the Deutsche Bank stake, HNA has bought a quarter of Old Mutual’s US asset management company for $446 million this year. It has also taken a 51 per cent stake in Glencore’s petroleum storage and logistics unit for $775m. At the weekend, it agreed to pay just under $1bn for CWT, a Singaporean logistics company.

“They have started to shift to smaller deal sizes and are looking much more at stakes. That has been clear over the past few months,” said one person who has worked with HNA on cross-border acquisitions.

For now, people close to the company say, it is unlikely that HNA will pursue megadeals in the way that it did last year with the $6bn buyout of the US electronics distributor Ingram Micro and a purchase of a 25 per cent stake in Hilton Worldwide.

The capital controls have posed less of a challenge to HNA than to some of its Chinese rivals because in some cases it has been able to turn to global banks for acquisition finance rather than onshore Chinese banks, the people pointed out.

That is because it already has significant assets overseas that can be used as collateral with global lenders, advisers say. Each new purchase can then be used to help finance the next one.

HNA’s aircraft leasing business provides an example of the strategy in practice. An HNA affiliate bought Avolon leasing for $2.5bn in 2015. A year later, Avolon was used as a vehicle to buy CIT Group’s aviation leasing unit for $10bn, securing $8.5bn of the financing from Morgan Stanley and UBS.

It was the largest deal that HNA has overseen to date, and it is a pattern people familiar with the group expect to continue. “They’ll use the vehicles they have acquired to go out and buy other assets,” said one person familiar with the company.

去年末中国监管机构踩下“海外并购”的刹车时,中国许多最热衷收购的企业眼看着自己的全球雄心只能戛然而止。

但有一家公司继续马不停蹄地收购,即便2017年第一季度中资海外并购数量降至3年来的低点,那便是海航集团(HNA Group)。

海航在1989年刚成立的时候是一家总部在海南省的民营航空运营商,近些年转型成为一家庞然的控股公司,有中国触角最广的境外收购买家之称。英国《金融时报》依据Dealogic的数据分析得出,在过去28个月里海航敲定了总价值400亿美元的交易。

海航的收购对象包括上市公司和非上市私企,覆盖旅游、物流、金融和房地产等多个行业。它在航空业尤其实力雄厚,持有至少10家航空公司的股份,大多是中国的航空公司,但也有巴西和南非的航空公司,此外海航旗下还有多座机场,以及世界第三大的飞机租赁公司。

根据汤森路透(Thomson Reuters)的数据,今年以来海航已宣布了12起交易,分别在美国、英国、澳大利亚、新西兰和香港等地。其中一起备受瞩目的交易是海航将成为美国天桥资本(SkyBridge Capital)的第一大股东,天桥资本的创始人安东尼?斯卡拉穆奇(Anthony Scaramucci)是唐纳德?特朗普(Donald Trump)的知名支持者。海航还增持德银(Deutsche Bank)股份至4.78%,后者是德国最重要的金融机构。

在华尔街的社交圈中,海航的地位也日益显赫。在今年2月犹太博物馆(Jewish Museum)举办的年度普林节舞会上,一些金融界大人物出面,对海航集团董事长王健热心公益表示赞赏。

身为特朗普经济顾问的黑石集团(Blackstone)首席执行官苏世民(Steve Schwarzman)率众人招待王健,这些人包括对冲基金大佬丹?奥赫(Dan Och)和约翰?保尔森(John Paulson),以及资深银行家保罗?陶布曼(Paul Taubman)和罗伯特?普鲁赞(Robert Pruzan)。

然而,有几位与海航直接合作过或打过交道的金融家私下承认,在北京打击资本外逃和非核心并购之时,海航对境外资产的胃口之大令他们诧异。

“老实说,确实感觉不到存在一种战略,”其中一人说道,“在与中国客户打交道时,你往往会遇到一种不同的(商业)哲学,甚至你会发现买方并没有一项战略,但这里的区别是(交易)规模以及他们支付的价格。真的让人非常惊讶。”

海航的批评者众多,他们质疑该集团能否在继续竞购的同时,整合好已经收购的资产。Dealogic的数据显示,目前海航在国内外有51起尚待完成的交易。在收购过程中,整个海航集团积累下的美元债务余额达到了132亿美元。

一位了解该集团的银行家辩称,其活动可以从中国官方媒体2015年以来的照片得到解释——这些照片是海航信奉佛教的联合创始人陈峰与中国国家主席习近平的合影。他说,那些照片被解读为海航拥有隐性的政府背书。

其他人则辩称,海航聚焦于具体行业,竞购与其计划相符的资产,在这方面展现出纪律。

他们说,海航通过收购货运服务商瑞士空港(Swissport International)、航班餐饮提供商Gategroup Holdings和德国一座机场,寻求打造一家至上而下的航空交通服务商。它在物流领域遵循类似模式,收购了地面服务和航空货运资产。

此外,接近海航的人士表示,该集团已开始微调战略,让自己更符合中国的政策。他们说,海航在近期交易中对每个目标的支出通常不超过10亿美元——据信这是中国外汇监管机构从严审查对外投资的门槛。

除了德意志银行的股份以外,海航今年还以4.46亿美元收购了耆卫(Old Mutual)旗下美国资产管理公司四分之一的股份。它还以7.75亿美元收购了嘉能可(Glencore)旗下石油存储和物流部门51%的股份。上周末,海航同意以近10亿美元收购新加坡物流公司CWT。

曾在跨境收购中与海航合作的一位人士表示:“他们开始转向较小规模的收购交易,并寻求获得更多股权。这在过去几个月体现得非常明显。”

接近海航的人士表示,就目前而言,海航不太可能像去年以60亿美元收购美国电子产品分销商英迈(Ingram Micro)以及收购希尔顿全球(Hilton Worldwide)的25%股份那样,寻求宏大的交易。

知情人士指出,资本管制给海航带来的挑战小于一些中国竞争对手,因为在某些情况下,海航能够转向全球银行而非中资银行获得收购资金。

咨询顾问们表示,这是因为它已经拥有可观的海外资产,可以向全球银行抵押贷款。每一项新购资产随后都能帮助为下一笔收购融资。

海航的飞机租赁业务展示了这种战略是如何付诸实践的。一家海航子公司在2015年以25亿美元收购了Avolon Leasing。一年后,海航利用Avolon以100亿美元收购了CIT Group的飞机租赁业务,从摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)和瑞银(UBS)获得了85亿美元的融资。

那是海航迄今最大的一笔交易,熟悉海航的人士预计该集团将会继续推行这种模式。一位知情人士表示:“他们将会利用已经买下的资产去收购其他资产。”

译者/何黎


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