China's HNA extends reach to NZ with $460 million asset finance firm purchase

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 11, 2017 11:15 hrs
A man walks past a branch of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) in Sydney

Fast-growing Chinese conglomerate HNA Group said on Wednesday it would extend its reach to New Zealand with the purchase of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group's asset finance subsidiary UDC Finance.

The NZ$660 million ($460 million) deal is the latest in a string of acquisitions by the privately held Chinese group, which has over $90 billion of assets globally and is best known as the owner of Hainan Airlines Co.

HNA Group announced about $20 billion of deals in 2016 alone, Reuters calculations showed. Among them was a $6.5 billion purchase of a 25 percent stake in hotel chain Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.

UDC will join HNA's finance arm, which operates a diverse set of businesses in equipment leasing, insurance, and credit services.

HNA Group Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Adam Tan said in a statement that the UDC portfolio, which includes car loans and equipment finance, offered significant growth opportunities in Australia and New Zealand.

ANZ expected the sale to be completed in the second half of 2017, it said in a statement, though it was subject to regulatory approvals.

"The sale of UDC is consistent with our strategy to simplify the bank," ANZ New Zealand CEO David Hisco said in a statement.

Last week, ANZ agreed to sell its 20 percent stake in Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank Co Ltd for A$1.8 billion.

The bank is also considering the sale of its Australian wealth and life insurance business, valued by the bank at A$4.5 billion.

ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott has said he wants the bank to be better capitalised and to focus on areas where it has the strongest competitive position.

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