China: HNA Group acquires 16.8% in Swiss duty-free operator Dufry in $1.44b deal

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Continuing its acquisition spree, Chinese conglomerate HNA Group is picking up a 16.8 per cent stake in Swiss duty-free stores operator Dufry AG, which is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange, at a market value of about 1.44 billion Swiss francs ($1.44 billion).

This exceeds the 15 per cent threshold, due to an agreement with third parties to purchase shares in  Dufry.

An exchange filing indicates HNA purchased the stakes at market-based prices, based on a “low double-digit premium”. Currently, Dufry posts a market capitalisation of 8.74 billion Swiss francs ($8.79 billion). Its shares surged in value, reaching 162.80 Swiss francs at market close on Tuesday.

Founded in 2000, HNA is involved in the aviation, real estate, financial services, tourism, logistics, and other industries and is listed among the Fortune Global 500. The Hainan Traffic Administration Holding (70%) and Jianyun Investments (30%) are its main shareholders.

According to the Wall Street Journal, it had approached existing shareholders, including Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC and state investment firm Temasek Holdings, to purchase stakes from them. 

GIC, Temasek and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) each committed up to 450 million Swiss francs to help fund Dufry’s acquisition of Italy’s World Duty Free in 2015. According to its 2016 financial report, Temasek Holdings owns 8.6 per cent of Dufry, GIC owns 7.8 per cent and QIA holds 6.9 per cent of the firm.  

The acquisition of a stake in Dufry grants it access to the largest travel retail operator’s network in the world, which has 2,200 shops at airports, sea hubs and tourist locations from Las Vegas to Milan.

The conglomerate has been fueling its growth in recent quarters with a highly acquisitive strategy. 2016 saw it acquire a 25 per cent stake in Hilton Worldwide for $6.5 billion; $10 billion for the aircraft-leasing division of financial firm CIT Group; and the $6 billion acquisition of Ingram Micro. Most acquisitions are complementary to its core competencies.

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Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.