Nearly two years after HNA Group announced it would sell off Radisson Hotel Group to pay off some of its mounting debt, another Chinese conglomerate wants to add to its portfolio. Jin Jiang has been patiently growing its hospitality holdings, but may end up in a similar debt trap to HNA Group in the end.
Jin Jiang, which is controlled by the Shanghai government, is in the early stages of considering a potential offer, according to the people. HNA could fetch at least $2 billion from a sale of Minneapolis-based Radisson, which may also attract other bidders, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.
Shares of the Chinese hospitality group’s main publicly traded arm, Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels (Group) Co., fell as much as 8.2 percent Thursday in Hong Kong and were headed for the biggest decline in six months. Investors are concerned about the listed unit’s leverage, and its ability to take on more debt is limited, Daiwa Capital Markets analyst Carlton Lai said by phone.
HNA is exploring a sale of Radisson as the embattled Chinese conglomerate offloads assets around the globe, Bloomberg News reported in June. Should the sale be completed, it would add to the more than $17 billion in divestments that HNA has made this year to lower its debt, which had soared to one of the highest levels in corporate China.
No final decisions have been made, and Jin Jiang could decide against proceeding, the people said. A representative for Jin Jiang didn’t immediately respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment, while representatives for HNA and Radisson declined to comment.
Jin Jiang, which owns 12.3 percent of France’s Accor SA, has been expanding overseas through acquisitions as Chinese tourists travel increasingly far afield. Earlier this year, it bought control of Indian chain Sarovar Hotels, adding to an earlier acquisition of European hospitality provider Groupe du Louvre.
The Chinese company is known for its ownership of the historic Peace Hotel in Shanghai. In 2016, Jin Jiang bought a majority stake in the owner of Chinese economy hotel chain 7 Days Group Holdings Ltd.
Radisson operates or has under development more than 1,400 hotels around the world under eight brands, including Radisson, Park Plaza and Country Inn & Suites, according its website. The group includes Stockholm-listed Radisson Hospitality AB, an operator of hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa with a market value of about $712 million.
HNA has been aggressively selling assets this year to pay down heavy debt incurred during a multiyear buying spree. It has sold $6 billion of stock in Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and pared its stake in Deutsche Bank AG. It agreed to sell a Minneapolis office tower for $320 million to Samsung Group, people familiar with the matter said in June.
–With assistance from Carol Zhong and Prudence Ho.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.
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Photo credit: A photo of a Radisson Blu hotel. Rezidor Hotel Group