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HNA kicks off $5 billion sale of container lessor Seaco, sources say

Bohai Leasing Co., a Shenzhen-listed arm of failed Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, is kicking off the sale of container leasing business Seaco, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is working with an adviser to solicit bids for Seaco and hopes to fetch a valuation of more than $5 billion including debt, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Bohai may seek an equity value of about $1.5 billion to $2 billion for the business, the people said. Infrastructure funds may show interest in the asset, they added.

A sale would mark a major divestment for HNA as it unwinds a global deal spree that saw it snap up stakes in companies from Deutsche Bank AG to Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. The government of China’s Hainan province effectively seized control of HNA in 2020 after it piled up one of the country’s biggest corporate leverage loads, and the company has been downsizing its portfolio since then.

Shares of Bohai jumped about 5% early Thursday, heading for a three-day gain of around 18%, the most since February 2019. The company has a market value of roughly $1.84 billion.

Seaco, founded in 1965, is one of the world’s largest lessors of containers used to transport goods around the globe by ship. It offers dry freight, refrigerated, specialized and tank containers, according to its website.

The company was previously a joint venture between General Electric Capital Corp. and Sea Containers Ltd. before being bought by HNA in 2011. In 2015, HNA acquired control of rival container lessor Cronos Ltd. and combined its business with Seaco.

Deliberations are ongoing and Bohai may decide to keep the asset, the people said. Representatives for Bohai and Seaco didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Bohai has been studying options such as divestments after struggling to refinance some of its debt, Bloomberg News reported in November. The firm has been reviewing a potential partial or full sale of its 70% stake in aircraft leasing firm Avolon, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time.

A $5 billion valuation might be a stretch for Seaco, which earned less than $100 million annually prior to 2022, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Adrian Sim wrote in a report on Wednesday. Avolon’s minority owner Orix Corp. could be the most likely source of liquidity for Bohai, due to its stake in the lessor and the first right of refusal, he said.
February 20, 2024


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