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.