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Chinese HNA to buy 25% of Hilton

Chinese HNA to buy 25% of Hilton Chinese aviation and shipping conglomerate HNA Group, controlled by billionaire Chen Feng, is acquiring about 25 percent of Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. from Blackstone Group LP in a deal valued at about $6.5 billion, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

HNA will pay $26.25 a share in cash in a transaction that cuts Blackstone’s interest in Hilton to about 21 percent, the firms said in a statement Monday. Hilton’s shares closed at $22.91 on Friday. The deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2017 and allows HNA to appoint two directors to the lodging company’s board.

“This investment is consistent with our strategy to enhance our global tourism business, and we look forward to working together on new initiatives that leverage our respective strengths, expertise and tourism platforms,” said Adam Tan, vice chairman and Chief Executive Officer at HNA Group.

Chinese investors have been buying hotel and travel businesses around the world as outbound travel surges and because yields from the underlying real estate are typically higher than from other properties. HNA in April agreed to buy Minneapolis-based Carlson Hotels Inc. and its majority stake in Rezidor Hotel Group AB, and last year purchased a minority stake in Red Lion Hotels Corp.

Chen, who two decades ago walked the aisle of his startup Hainan Airlines Co.’s lone airplane serving refreshments, is pursuing an ambition to make HNA one of the world’s top 100 companies by the end of this decade and among the top 50 by 2030.
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