Chinese conglomerate HNA has been blocked from buying out ANZ’s New Zealand asset finance arm UDC Finance for $463m, in another sign that the company’s opaque operations are hindering its ambitious overseas investment strategy, the Financial Times reports.
ANZ’s sale of UDC was announced in January as part of the bank’s effort to complete $3 billion worth of disposals, mostly in Asia. But New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office has declined the application by HNA, the Chinese airlines-to-finance conglomerate, because regulators were unable to verify who controlled HNA.
“The information provided about ownership and control interests was not sufficient or adequate for the OIO to determine who the relevant overseas persons are for [HNA’s] application to acquire UDC,” said Lisa Barrett, the office’s deputy chief executive of policy and overseas investment. “We were therefore not satisfied that the investor test in section 18 of the Overseas Investment Act 2005 was met. Without knowing who the relevant overseas person is, the OIO cannot be satisfied that section 18 has been met, therefore we are unable to grant consent.”
HNA has done more than $40bn in deals over the past three years but analysts, including the rating agency S&P, have raised concerns about the group’s high leverage and access to funding.