19 January 2018 – El Mundo
The largest shareholder of NH Hotels, the Chinese conglomerate HNA, is considering the possibility of divesting its stake in the Spanish hotel group. It has engaged the entities JPMorgan and Benedetto Gartland to identify possible buyers for its 29.3% participation in the Spanish hotel chain.
The Chinese investor group has submitted this information to the National Securities and Markets Commission (CNMV), explaining that it has engaged the aforementioned entities “to review its shareholding position in the NH Hotel Group”, which it holds through its company Tangla Spain, “which includes the identification of possible buyers for its stake”.
It was only a week ago that the Board of NH unanimously rejected the merger proposed by the Barceló group. This possible sale could be driven by the need for liquidity but the rejection decision may have precipitated the move by the Chinese firm.
The Chinese investor group had entered NH in 2013 with an initial participation of 20% through the subscription of a capital increase amounting to €234.28 million, which it increased to 29.5% in November 2015, after purchasing the 8.33% stake that the entity Intesa Sanpaolo held in the listed hotel chain.
Nevertheless, the disagreements arose shortly after its entry into the Spanish group’s share capital. The purchase of Carlson Rezidor, a rival of the Spanish hotel group in certain markets, resulted in the exclusion of the Chinese company from NH’s Board due to a conflict of interest. The letters confirming these disagreements were made public and the parties even came to a head in the courts.
HNA needs to obtain liquidity to pay off a debt that it took out in 2015, after carrying out several acquisitions worth USD 40 billion (€32.65 billion). And in December, it announced its intention to sell assets worth US 6 billion (€4.897 billion).
By the middle of November, the Asian conglomerate had sold 1.14% of its share capital in the Spanish hotel group, which meant divesting 4 million shares, whereby obtaining some liquidity.
Based on the current composition of NH’s shareholders, HNA is followed by the investment fund Oceanwood, with 12%, and the Hesperia Investor Group, with 9%.
Original story: El Mundo (by Silvia Fernández)
Translation: Carmel Drake