The largest owner of sprawling Chinese conglomerate HNA is a newly formed New York nonprofit that has yet to get up and running, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
The nonprofit – called Hainan Cihang Charity Foundation – was formed in December and reportedly holds a 30% stake worth billions of dollars in the murky Chinese company, which manages $146 billion in assets and has been dogged by regulatory scrutiny of late.
But the foundation, which hasn’t picked charitable causes nor started operating, hasn’t actually received the shares to date, according to the WSJ report.
Here’s The Wall Street Journal:
“The HNA shares in question – a nearly 30% stake valued at tens of billions of dollars – have yet to be transferred to the foundation, the people said. HNA is learning as it goes: Executives recently held discussions with another big U.S. foundation to understand how it was being run, the people said.
HNA’s disclosure of a big, new owner leaves many questions about the group unanswered, especially concerning the provenance of the 30% stake. The shares had been held offshore by two private investors unrelated to HNA who donated them to the foundation, people familiar with the matter said.”
HNA has been on an acquisition binge in recent years, shelling out some $50 billion for stakes in companies such as Hilton Hotels and Deutsche Bank.
It’s also seeking regulatory approval to buy hedge fund investment firm Skybridge Capital from Anthony Scaramucci, President Donald Trump’s new White House communications director.
In recent weeks HNA has pushed back against the image of an opaque operator, with CEO Adam Tan denying that the company had received any special attention from regulators or that big banks were distancing themselves from the firm.
If the foundation, which is based in the same building as HNA’s Manhattan headquarters, opens up shop, it will be subject to even more disclosures and transparency, the WSJ report said.