HNA Group, Secretive Chinese Conglomerate, Takes Top Stake in Deutsche Bank

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What Has It Invested In?

HNA has been on an acquisition streak in recent years, broadening beyond airlines to invest in tourism, logistics and financial services.

Since the beginning of 2016, it has struck deals to acquire Ingram Micro; a quarter of Hilton Worldwide Holdings, the hotel company; Carlson Hotels, owner of the Radisson and Country Inns & Suites chains; Gategroup, a Swiss airline catering business; and about a quarter of the American investment arm of the British-South African insurer Old Mutual.

Does It Have Ties to the Chinese State?

HNA is not a state-owned enterprise in the way that China’s banks, airlines, telecommunication companies and other pillars of the economy are. But its political pedigree runs deep.

For more than a decade, HNA’s chairman, Chen Feng, has been a member of the National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, a group of more than 2,000 that meets every five years to help determine party leadership.

HNA’s ownership is murky — one major shareholder lists his address as a shabby apartment building in Beijing.

The company has benefited from sizable loans from state-backed lenders and counts the son of a former top political figure as a business partner.

What Are Its Ambitions Beyond China?

HNA is not just politically connected in China. Its name has also come up in the political scene in the United States.

The Chinese company agreed in January to buy SkyBridge Capital, an investment firm owned by Anthony Scaramucci, a flamboyant former campaign fund-raiser for Mr. Trump who was set to be a White House liaison to business.

When Mr. Scaramucci was turned down for the liaison job, one of the issues raised was the sale of SkyBridge to HNA. Because the transaction will probably take several months, questions were raised over potential conflicts of interest.

At the time, HNA described the deal as giving it a crucial entry into the American market for its asset management business.

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