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China's HNA Group becomes largest shareholder in Deutsche Bank

AFP/PTI / Shanghai 03 May 17 | 08:00 PM

Photo: Reuters

Chinese conglomerate HNA Group has become the largest shareholder in Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank after raising its stake to nearly 10 per cent, according to a regulatory filing.

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HNA Group, an aviation and shipping group, leapfrogged US management giant BlackRock after its holding in Deutsche Bank reached 9.92 per cent, worth 3.4 billion euros ($3.7 billion), according to the US public filing this week.

BlackRock held a stake of 5.88 per cent in the European banking giant as of April.

HNA has been on a buying spree of overseas assets from hotels to airlines even though the Chinese government has curbed acquisitions in foreign assets over concerns about the weakening yuan.

Deutsche was hit with heavy fines last year, as well as battling headwinds from low interest rates, tougher banking regulation and a massive restructuring plan that will see the bank withdraw from some business areas.

The bank suffered a 1.4-billion-euro loss in 2016, but it reported strong first quarter results last week.

But HNA invested in the firm as it believes the shares of the bank are "substantially undervalued and are an attractive investment", according to the filing.

HNA just last month agreed to buy an $8 billion stake in Rio de Janeiro's airport from the corruption-tainted Brazilian firm Odebrecht.

It also announced in October that it would acquire a 25 per cent stake in international hotel operator Hilton Worldwide Holdings, not long after announcing it would buy the aircraft leasing business of US-based CIT Group Inc. for $10 billion.

The company purchased Brazil's third largest airline Azul in August last year, a deal that followed a July announcement that it had made a successful $1.5 billion offer for Swiss airline catering company Gategroup.

In May last year, the company bought a 13 per cent stake in Virgin Australia airline and also acquired a share of Portuguese national airline TAP.

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