Hainan Airlines, the carrier affiliated with embattled conglomerate HNA Group and China’s fourth-largest carrier, plans to borrow 7.5 billion yuan (US$1.1 billion) from a Chinese bank syndicate, an Asian Times report said, adding that the National Development Bank (NDB) will be the lead and agent bank, which will provide the company with 1.5 billion yuan.
The NDB will be joined by six other banks including, Exim Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Bank of China and Postal
Savings Bank of China, which will each offer the company 1 billion yuan.
Hainan Airlines said in a statement that the funds will be used for operational expenses such as buying aviation fuel, aviation materials as well as maintenance and landing fees.
Many assets are for sale
The loan period is three years, while the grace period is one year. The airline did not divulge financial details of the loan, such the interest level.
In October, Reuters reported that the airline offered to pay 12% interest to borrow in US dollars in a sign of the financing strains felt by units of the indebted Chinese conglomerate.
The deal with the seven banks comes as HNA Group is in the process of selling some US$20 billion of assets, according to several media reports, following a US$50 billion acquisition spree.
Financial trouble not over yet
The Asia Times report added that last summer, Airbus refused delivery of a number of Airbus A330 aircraft to Hainan Airlines because the carrier was not able to pay for them. Parent company HNA is also in turmoil due to a shortage of capital and the sudden death of its co-founder and chairman Wang Jian, who died from injuries sustained after falling 15 metres onto rocks in the French city of Bonnieux while posing for a photograph during a visit to France.
CargoForwarder Global reported in October that HNA Group was in advanced talks to sell its Swiss cargo handler, Swissport, to Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc., which has emerged as the preferred bidder for Swissport in a deal which could fetch more than US$3 billion.
Nol van Fenema