Chinese airline-to-finance conglomerate HNA Group faces the loss of assets which includes buildings at London’s Canary Wharf to creditors, immediately after a missed interest payment that marks its very first default on international liabilities.
CWT International, a Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of money-strapped HNA, mentioned in a statement on Tuesday that it had failed to spend interest payments and charges on a HK$1.4bn ($179m) loan, prompting lenders to demand the subsidiary repay the complete loan and interest or danger the loss of nearly all of its remaining assets.
The missed payment also triggered a cross-default on a separate HK$766m loan owed by a subsidiary of CWT.
Bankers and lawyers have lengthy expressed concern that HNA’s complicated financing structure and pledges across subsidiaries leave it vulnerable to a chain of defaults.
HNA has navigated a series of liquidity crises as it tries to spend off at least $80bn in debt. So far, it has taken pains to meet any international obligations, although defaulting on solutions sold to person Chinese investors and workers, and narrowly succeeding in paying off some domestic bonds.
Creditors are in search of assets which includes the Canary Wharf workplace buildings, golf courses in China and investment properties in the US, immediately after CWT failed to spend interest and charges of around HK$63m that is due to lenders beneath the HK$1.4bn facility agreement.
In the previous two years HNA has sold much more than $40bn in assets to trim a debt pile twice that size. Even so, the much more it sells, the fewer income-making assets stay to settle outstanding loans.
Brexit uncertainties have meant HNA has had “a challenge identifying interested buyers” for the Canary Wharf buildings at 17 Columbus Courtyard and 30 South Colonnade, the enterprise mentioned in March. They are occupied by Credit Suisse and by Reuters, which plans to move out subsequent year.
CWT mentioned its lenders would take possession of all assets pledged as collateral if the enterprise does not repay the outstanding quantity by 9am Hong Kong on Wednesday. The subsidiary mentioned the assets represent the “vast majority” of its total holdings, which it mentioned have been valued at HK$24.6bn at the finish of 2018.
CWT, which was formerly recognized as HNA International Investment Holdings, final year sold warehouse properties in Singapore for $539m. It acquired the warehouses in 2017 when it purchased CWT International, a Singaporean logistics enterprise whose name it subsequently adopted. Trading in its Hong Kong-listed shares has been suspended given that April 10.
According to its 2018 monetary statement, the enterprise borrowed $561m in 2017 to invest in CWT, which it paid down thanks to the warehouse sale and a HK$1.4bn loan due in October this year. It mentioned it would not be in a position to repay the HK$1.4bn unless it was in a position to refinance it.
Separately, Hong Kong regulators on Tuesday asked for “further clarification” on the monetary scenario of HNA-controlled Hong Kong Airlines, whose creditors have taken the enterprise to court.
Final month, HNA sold spending budget carrier HK Express to Cathay Pacific, carving the much more lucrative organization out of Hong Kong Airlines. The airline told Hong Kong’s Air Transport Licensing Authority it had created partial repayments to creditors more than claims created in court at the finish of February.
More reporting by Archie Zhang in Beijing