CargoForwarder Global reported last week that information from what was considered to be reliable sources, clearly indicated that the sale process of Hahn Airport was in its final stages
and that the (lucky) winner was to be the Henan Civil Aviation and Investment Company (HNCA).
This was also confirmed by a number of media including the German Press Agency (dpa) in a release issued this morning.
Our report of last Thursday was in turn hotly contested by both HNCA and Cargolux, in whom HNCA has a 35 percent holding.
We found out that we were not the only media who informed their readers that the new owner was going to be HNCA (see above).
What’s fact - what’s fiction?
Despite denials from HNCA and Cargolux management, we were still not fully convinced that the denials was correct.
Information received on the same day strongly indicated that the other apparent bidder, the HNA Group was no longer really a part of the bidding process which is being run by KPMG.
This, apparently as the HNA bidders were not willing to increase their financial offer.
That did not necessarily mean that HNA were officially out of the process, but indications were that “another bidder” had offered more and the KPMG team were said to be very close to closing.
Then also last Friday, the name of another potential bidder came out of the woodwork.
A so-called ‘Shanghai Trading Company’.
The new owner
At today’s press conference which was called by the Rhineland-Palatinate local government and lead by their Minister of the Interior, Roger Lewentz, it was revealed that the new owner is Shanghai Yiqian Trading Co. Limited with its base in Shanghai.
They will take a 82.5% holding in Hahn, with the remaining 17.5% still officially in the hands of the State of Hesse which is a majority shareholder in Frankfurt/Main Airport. However, the R-P state indicated that the remaining shares held by Hesse state are expected to be acquired by the new owner as well.
Shanghai Yiqian Trading Co, which was represented today by Dr Yu Tao Chou is said to be a Chinese investment company.
The press release states that the “new owner and its partners are especially active in aviation, logistics and international trade.”
The sale price is quoted as being a low two-digit amount. Rumors are that it is around 10 million euros.
The Rhineland-Palatinate local parliament still has to officially ratify the agreement. This is expected to happen before the start of the summer vacation period.
NEWCO or OLDCO?
Is this just a NEWCO put together by either HNA or HNCA, or another, and acting as a front-man for future owners?
In today’s meeting it was also mentioned that the new owner was in discussion with Yangtze River Express Airlines to convince them to return their freighter services to Hahn which they transferred to Munich in 2015.
Yangtze is owned by the HNA Group - strange!
Roger Lewentz added that the concept of the new owners is to boost both cargo and passenger business at the airport by a close cooperation with Asian partners.
This can be read as meaning Asian airlines, presumably Chinese.
He further confirmed that there had been three bidders and that the choice went to those who the government see as being best suited for developing and expanding business at the airport.
Following the event, CargoForwarder was told unofficially that Shanghai Yiqian intends to utilize Hahn primarely as a European gateway for perishables. But no indication was made about the origin
of these produce and which carrier(s) might fly them into or out of HHN. So there are still many questions that remain unanswered.
Markus Bunk, the present CEO of Hahn Airport will remain on seat, it was revealed today. Also mentioned was that Mr Yu Tao Chou from Shanghai Yiqian Trading will become his deputy. That we think, means that as of today the Chinese group is in charge.
Again, the question remains as to whether Shanghai Yiqian Trading will be in charge or acting on behalf of others?
Also, future strategy and commercial plans are not known and whether the airport will become more cargo orientated and what the new owner plans to get the airport back into black figures.
Watch this space!
John Mc Donagh