HONG KONG, Oct 24 (Reuters) - HNA-affiliated Hainan Airlines - China’s fourth-largest carrier - is offering to pay 12 percent interest to borrow in U.S. dollars in a sign of the financing strains felt by units of the indebted Chinese conglomerate.
The deal comes as HNA Group is in the process of selling some $20 billion of assets, according to Reuters calculations and media reports, following a $50 billion acquisition spree.
The conglomerate, whose holdings at its peak ranged from hotels to the largest single stake in Germany’s Deutsche Bank , is seeking to focus more closely on its core businesses including airlines.
Hainan Airlines and HNA Group did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
No target amount has been given for the mooted bond deal, according to a termsheet seen by Reuters.
The two-year notes will be unrated and are being sold for “repayment of certain indebtedness and general corporate purposes.”
Hainan Airlines has $300 million of dollar-denominated bonds due for repayment on October 31, according to Refinitiv data. Those bonds, issued on November 1 last year, carried a coupon of 6.35 percent, according to the data.
Only three dollar-denominated bonds with a similar two-year tenor sold in Asia-Pacific this year have carried a higher coupon than the new Hainan Airlines deal, according to Refinitiv.
The new bonds will be priced at a slight discount, meaning they will yield 13.17 percent to maturity.
Unusually, the deal includes a “non-put” structure for the first year, meaning after that time, investors can make Hainan Airlines repay the debt early.
Typically, fixed income investors, who profit from coupon payments, instead look to protect that income stream with an opposite structure, known as “non-call”, which prevents the borrower from repaying the bonds for a set number of years.
“It’s a very investor-unfriendly structure” a debt syndicate banker not involved in the transaction said, adding that a non-put clause was “extremely rare”.
The deal, which is being led by Guotai Junan International, comes as HNA is undergoing an extensive restructuring.
In May, Hainan Airlines said control of the company had passed to a local provincial regulator.
In June, it outlined plans to acquire aviation assets worth $1.6 billion, to be funded by a share issue to investors including Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings, after which control of Hainan Airlines would pass to HNA-affiliated Hainan Province Cihang Foundation.
According to the circular for the bond offering, Hainan Airlines’ biggest shareholders - Grand China Air, Haikou Meilan International Airport, HNA Group and Changjiang Leasing Co - have pledged 36 percent of Hainan Airlines shares as loan collateral.
That would put the company at risk of a change of control if the borrowers failed to fulfil their obligations, which would leave the lenders free to dispose of the shares. (Reporting by Jennifer Hughes; Additional reporting by Stella Qiu; Editing by Neil Fullick)