Deals - Asia

HNA aims to reach a turning point in resolving liquidity risks next year: chairman

FILE PHOTO: HNA Group Chairman Chen Feng speaks during the Media Cooperation Forum on Belt and Road in Boao, Hainan province, China October 30, 2018. Picture taken October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - Indebted Chinese conglomerate HNA Group predicts 2020 will see a major turning point in its efforts to resolve liquidity risks, its chairman said, as the company pledges an all-out effort to turn the company around.

Chen Feng, in a New Year message to HNA employees carried by the company’s official WeChat account on Monday, said the company had fought an arduous war again liquidity challenges this year, admitting that some salary payments had been delayed due to cash flow shortages.

Chen said: “2020 is the decisive year to win the war against the liquidity problem.”

“We have no choice but to make utmost efforts with one heart and one mind to greet the challenges head-on.”

The conglomerate accumulated assets ranging from a stake in Deutsche Bank to high-profile overseas properties in a multi-year shopping spree. However, in 2018 it began unwinding those bets to shift the focus to its core airlines and tourism businesses, after drawing scrutiny from Beijing and other overseas regulators.

Chen said that with the support from the Communist Party, the Hainanese government and its creditor banks, HNA managed to maintain the safety record of its privately-owned Hainan Airlines, also one of the few businesses remaining after its asset sales.

He also said the company has held a conference in Zunyi, a city in northern Guizhou province, to outline its turnaround strategy.

Chen became the company’s chairman after the sudden death of his predecessor, Wang Jian, during a business trip to France in July last year.

Reporting by Stella Qiu and Brenda Goh, editing by Louise Heavens