For a company regularly in the news, China’s HNA Group Co. remains shrouded in mystery. American and Swiss government officials are seeking more information about the conglomerate’s ownership, the Chinese government has been asking questions, while the European Central Bank is considering a review of its own. Once a little-known airline operator, HNA took on billions of dollars in debt as it made more than $40 billion of acquisitions over six continents since the start of 2016. With interests in tourism, logistics and financial services, it’s now the biggest shareholder of such well-known names as Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG.
In part because HNA is trying to buy a stake in SkyBridge Capital, the hedge-fund firm of Anthony Scaramucci, who was briefly President Donald Trump’s communications director. The proposed transaction has been delayed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which vets sales of American assets to foreign buyers to protect national security. HNA is also being sued as part of the U.S. bankruptcy of one of the companies it invested in, San Francisco-based travel agency Travana Inc.