April 16, 2019 / 6:05 AM / 7 days ago

CWT International defaults on $179 million loan, parent HNA sees no impact on business

HONG KONG (Reuters) - CWT International Ltd, a unit of China’s indebted HNA Group Co Ltd, said on Tuesday it defaulted on a HK$1.4 billion ($179 million) loan, and that it has less than 24 hours to pay funds due or lose assets pledged as collateral.

FILE PHOTO: The HNA Group logo is seen on the gate of HNA Plaza building in Beijing, China July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Elias Glenn

CWT, in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange, said it has not paid accrued interest and fees worth HK$63 million to lenders, who will take possession of the assets if the amount due is not paid by 9 AM (0100 GMT) on Wednesday.

Among assets pledged is wholly owned CWT Pte Ltd, a holding firm for HNA’s commodity marketing, engineering, finance and logistics services. Other assets pledged include properties in Britain and the United States and golf courses in China.

One property, 17 Columbus Courtyard in London’s Canary Wharf development - with tenants including Credit Suisse Group AG - was bought in July 2016 for 131 million pounds ($172 million). In 2018, it was on sale with a value of HK$1.3 billion ($166 million).

CWT International, which operates in 90 countries, also owns a portfolio of golf courses in the U.S. city of Seattle, stock exchange filings showed.

Aviation-to-financial services conglomerate HNA bought the Singapore-based firm for $1 billion in December 2017 via wholly owned subsidiary HNA Belt and Road Investments Singapore. It then merged the firm with one of its Hong Kong-listed units and named the resulting entity CWT International.

Since late last year, HNA has been in talks with banks to find a buyer for CWT, as it divests assets to pay off debt.

HNA said in a statement Wednesday it is monitoring the situation closely and remains committed to meeting financial obligations at the group level as well as supporting operational and restructuring initiatives of its portfolio.

The group said it remains confident in the financial and business operations of CWT and does not anticipate the default will result in any disruption to business or wider impact on CWT or elsewhere in the group.

CWT has not made any new filing about the default since Tuesday. If it has not yet repaid the outstanding amounts, its assets should have gone into creditors’ hands by now.

The company could not be immediately reached for comment. A spokesman for HNA said he has no update regarding the asset seizure.

CWT’s assets were worth HK$24.6 billion at the end of 2018, when it posted a loss of HK$557.3 million. Late last month, it said it would be unable to repay the borrowed HK$1.4 billion in full as scheduled in October unless it sells assets - which it said has been challenging - or refinances the loan.

Trading of CWT shares has been suspended since April 10.

Reporting by Kane Wu; Additional reporting by Jennifer Hughes; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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