China's HNA Group to buy Swiss catering, hospitality company Gategroup for $1.5 bn

Chinese aviation and shipping giant HNA Group today struck a friendly deal to buy Swiss catering and hospitality company Gategroup for $1.5 billion (SFr1.4 billion).

Under the deal, HNA is offering to pay SFr53 a share, a 21 per cent premium to Gategroup's Friday closing price.

Post closing, HNA intends to delist Gategroup from the Swiss Stock Exchange and operate the company as an independently managed company with its headquarters in Switzerland.

HNA, whose flagship company is Hainan Airlines, has like other Chinese companies recently gone on acquisition spree.

In February, it offered to buy US electronics distributor Ingram Micro Inc for about $6 billion, the largest Chinese takeover of a US information technology company, while last July, it acquired Swissport, the ground handling and cargo services company that was also earlier part of Swissair, for $2.8 billion.

In September last, it agreed to buy Irish aircraft leasing company Avolon for $2.5 billion and last week, HNA agreed to buy a controlling stake in Chinese engineering and construction company Tysan Holdings from Blackstone Group for $340 million.

Based in Zurich airport and earlier part of Swissair, Gategroup provides services to the travel industry, including catering, hospitality, provisioning and logistics.

It offers its services via a portfolio of 11 brands, employs more than 28,000 people worldwide and has annual revenues of 3 billion Swiss francs.

Andreas Schmid, chairman of Gategroup said, "It makes strategic sense that our company will become part of HNA, one of the leading providers of airport and aviation services worldwide. HNA has extensive expertise in the aviation industry, and its strong footprint in Asia will help gategroup to expand significantly in this fast growing region, where gategroup has strategic headroom."

A Fortune 500 Company, HNA has grown from a local aviation transportation operator into a multinational conglomerate encompassing aviation, airport management, financial services, real estate, retail, tourism, and logistics.

The Group has assets worth over $90 billion, and has 11 listed companies. In 2015, HNA had revenues of $29 billion and employed nearly 180,000 worldwide.

It has a fleet of over 820 aircrafts, serves nearly 700 domestic and international routes, flies to over 200 cities, and has serves 77.4 million passengers annually.

HNA operates and manages Hainan Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, Deer Jet, Lucky Air, Capital Airlines, West Air, Fuzhou Airlines, Urumqi Air, Beibu Gulf Airlines, Yangtze River Airlines, Guilin Airlines, My CARGO, Africa World Airlines, and Aigle Azur.