Troubled HNA Group Gets Government Funding for Belgrade Airport Bid

A Chi­nese group led by HNA that is report­edly con­sid­er­ing bid­ding on a long-term con­ces­sion to Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Air­port is receiv­ing the sup­port of the Cen­tral gov­ern­ment, with the China-Cen­tral and East­ern Europe Invest­ment Coop­er­a­tion Fund sign­ing on to the HNA con­sor­tium.

HNA has come under intense scrutiny both from Chi­nese reg­u­la­tors and the inter­na­tional media fol­low­ing a tight­en­ing of lend­ing rules directed by Bei­jing at acquis­i­tive pri­vate com­pa­nies per­ceived to be mov­ing into non-core busi­ness sec­tors.  The sup­port of the China-CEE Invest­ment Coop­er­a­tion Fund – founded as part of the China-CEE 16+1 forum that has been a major boon to Chi­nese rela­tions with Cen­tral and East Euro­pean states – is a strong indi­ca­tor that Bei­jing is sup­port­ing the company’s bid for the Ser­bia con­ces­sion (a project that does seem to fall into what has been HNA’s core cor­po­rate focus).

Gov­ern­ment sup­port for HNA’s Bel­grade bid sug­gests that inter­na­tional air­port invest­ments enjoy the sup­port of the gov­ern­ment.  Data from Intel­Trak con­firms this, show­ing a gen­eral upward trend in China’s invest­ment in over­seas avi­a­tion facil­i­ties since 2009.  HNA, itself, has recently been involved in a num­ber of inter­na­tional air­port deals, includ­ing, for exam­ple, in Brazil and Ger­many.