Hilton-owner HNA to overcome its US$86 bil debt in 2020, says chairman

BEIJING: HNA Group Co’s chairman predicted 2020 will be “the decisive year to win the war” against the Chinese conglomerate’s long-running liquidity challenges.

HNA endured another year of difficulties with liquidity but it’s the group’s “political duty” to overcome the challenge, Chairman Chen Feng said on the company’s WeChat page.

Still, the message didn’t specify how HNA would overcome its struggles beyond “hard work.”

HNA, once a symbol of Chinese corporate expansion overseas, has been under pressure to sell assets after periodically missing payments and struggling with debt that climbed as high as 598 billion yuan.

Last week it repaid a 1.3 billion yuan bond to avoid what could have been its first default on a publicly issued note and aggravating nerves in China’s debt markets.

HNA shot to prominence in 2016 and 2017 after splurging more than US$40 billion on acquisitions across six continents.

The once little-known airline operator became the biggest shareholder of iconic companies such as Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG as well as paying top dollar for high-end properties from Manhattan to Hong Kong.