Wang Jian denies group is facing mounting debt challenges
Defense comes as HNA Group’s borrowing costs have soared
HNA Group Co.’s second-most-senior executive argued that the group is a victim of a conspiracy against the Chinese government and one of the country’s most loyal companies, according to a speech to fellow board members.
In the Feb. 3 speech, Co-Chairman Wang Jian said recent attacks came from “reactionary forces from both China and overseas countering China’s rise, and are a major conspiracy against the Communist Party Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core,” according to a transcript of the speech distributed to employees, a copy of which was seen by Bloomberg. The aim is to disrupt China’s financial markets and subvert Chinese communist rule, according to the document.
“We are carrying out a great transformation; we are realizing the great dreams of the secretary general,” Wang said, urging employees to be strong through this tough period, according to the transcript. “They want to disrupt the entire Chinese economy, then disrupt HNA, leading to social unrest, subverting the entire 19th Party Congress, China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative and the planning for further, deeper reform. This is their conspiracy, these are their evil motives, and they’ve been plotting for a long time. ”
The Chinese conglomerate has seen its borrowing costs soar after spending tens of billions of dollars on a debt-fueled buying spree to snap up assets such as stakes in Deutsche Bank AG and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. HNA is targeting to sell 100 billion yuan ($16 billion) in assets during the first half as it faces a potential liquidity shortfall of at least 15 billion yuan this quarter, people familiar with the matter have said.
According to the document, Wang said that the country’s overall strategy had been undermined by unfair coverage by the media. He disputed the notion that HNA is facing mounting debt challenges, saying the group’s gearing ratio had fallen for eight consecutive years. Wang also described the scrutiny HNA had been under as not just being under a microscope, but a nanoscope.
A representative at HNA didn’t respond to a request for comment.
— With assistance by Haze Fan, Jing Yang De Morel, and Prudence Ho