Fri, Aug 10, 2018 - Page 10 News List

HNA questioned on property near Trump Tower

‘UNIQUE FACTS’:The Chinese conglomerate has hinted that it might unload the 21-story building, which houses a police precinct near the president’s home


China’s HNA Group Co (海航集團) said it has been questioned by a US government panel about its ownership of a building in Manhattan near Trump Tower.

The scrutiny from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), which assesses deals posing potential national security risks, involved some “unique facts and circumstances” regarding the location of the building, a representative for the Chinese conglomerate said in a statement.

Those issues did not exist when HNA bought the 850 Third Avenue property in New York City, it said.

The 21-story building houses one of only two police precincts that are within 1.6km of Trump Tower, US President Donald Trump’s base when he is in New York.

HNA said that it is taking steps to address concerns voiced by the committee.

The scrutiny comes amid rising tensions between the US and China, which is said to have decided to help HNA pull itself out of recent liquidity challenges.

The conglomerate, which has sold more than US$17 billion in assets to lower its massive debts, has dangled the Manhattan building as one of several properties that it is considering unloading.

Amid an escalating trade war with the world’s second-largest economy, Trump’s administration has stepped up its meddling in inbound investments involving China, resulting in the scuttling of high-profile deals including Broadcom Ltd’s US$117 billion attempt to buy Qualcomm Inc.

CFIUS’ powers may also be expanded under a bill that the US Congress is expected to pass this month.

HNA has also been caught in the crossfire.

In late April, it abandoned plans to buy SkyBridge Capital from former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

The group has also faced heightened attention across its holdings worldwide, partly because of questions about its ownership.

HNA agreed to buy the 850 Third Avenue building before Trump was elected.

Separately, the New York Post earlier reported that Trump’s administration is poised to seize a majority stake in the building.

Responding to the article, HNA said that “there is no seizure or forced sale of 850 Third Avenue underway or pending, and it is grossly inaccurate and misleading to suggest otherwise.”

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