HNA Group to Consider Bid for Control of Singapore’s CWT

  • Biggest CWT shareholder to discuss HNA interest in coming days
  • Family owners could enter exclusive talks with Chinese company

HNA Group Co., the acquisitive owner of China’s fourth-largest airline, has approached the biggest shareholder of CWT Ltd. to express interest in a possible bid for control of the Singapore logistics company, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Loi family that controls CWT will discuss HNA’s interest in coming days and could enter exclusive talks with the Chinese company as soon as next week, one of the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Shares of CWT, which has a market value of about $945 million, jumped as much as 7.4 percent in Singapore trading Friday and closed at the highest in more than seven months.

CWT’s main shareholder C & P Holdings Pte Ltd has been approached by various interested parties and is in the process of reviewing their proposals for its business and assets, the company said in a filing to the stock exchange late Friday. There is no certainty that the talks would lead to a deal, the logistics company said.

A deal would the the latest in a string of acquisitions by the owner of Hainan Airlines Co. HNA said last month it will buy Swiss airline catering company Gategroup Holding AG for 1.4 billion francs ($1.4 billion) and agreed to purchase closely-held Carlson Hotels Inc., gaining hospitality brands including Radisson and Park Plaza.

“China is the biggest freight cargo market, and having Singapore will give them a wing into a hub where the location is strategic,” Shukor Yusof, founder of aviation consultant Endau Analytics, said by phone Friday. “This is all part of China’s push to having its companies to have bigger presence outside the country.”

Strategic Review

HNA, based on a tropical island in southern China dotted with beach resorts, has assets valued at more than 600 billion yuan ($92.3 billion), according to its website. The Chinese group runs businesses including hotels, supermarkets, department stores, insurance firms, ship repairs, logistics and airports that generated combined revenue of nearly 190 billion yuan last year, the website shows.

CWT said in August that its controlling shareholder was conducting a strategic review of its business and assets, which could lead to a deal involving the Singapore-listed company. A representative for HNA Group said by e-mail she hasn’t received any information on the matter.

HNA’s leasing arm in January completed the acquisition of Avolon Holdings Ltd. at an enterprise value of $7.6 billion, forming the world’s fourth-largest aircraft lessor by asset value. Tianjin Tianhai Investment Co., a Shanghai-traded affiliate of HNA, announced a $6 billion takeover of U.S. software distributor Ingram Micro Inc. in February.

CWT, founded in 1970, employs about 6,000 people and offers services including commodity logistics, freight forwarding, warehousing and defense procurement, according to its website. It also controls MRI Group Pte, a trader of base metals and petroleum products, and helps manage Cache Logistics Trust, which owns industrial property in Singapore, Australia and China.

The company this month said its first quarter net profit fell 19 percent to S$23.7 million, while revenue for the quarter declined 14 percent to S$1.9 billion. It said its mega integrated logistics hub is expected to be completed by the first half of next year. Shares of the company, led by Chief Executive Officer Loi Pok Yen, closed 12 Singapore cents higher at S$2.14.

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