Sunday 18 February 2018

HNA shareholder taps top German politician for role

Philipp Roesler was previously a German vice chancellor
Philipp Roesler was previously a German vice chancellor

Eyk Henning

The largest shareholder of HNA Group - the Chinese conglomerate that's been buying stakes in companies including Irish aircraft-lessor Avolon and Germany's Deutsche Bank - is set to appoint former German vice chancellor Philipp Roesler as its chief, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr Roesler, who served as chair of Germany's Free Democratic Party (FDP) from 2011 to 2013, and as vice chancellor in a coalition government led by Angela Merkel, will remain head of government relations at the World Economic Forum.

Vietnam-born Philipp Roesler was adopted by German parents and raised in Germany. He is poised to take the helm at New York-based Hainan Cihang Charity Foundation within the coming weeks, said the people, who asked not to be identified speaking ahead of the announcement.

Roesler's appointment was engineered by Christian Angermayer, a German entrepreneur and adviser to HNA, according to the sources. An HNA representative declined to comment.

With a stake of 29.5pc, New York-based Cihang is the largest shareholder of sprawling conglomerate HNA, which has about $180bn in assets.

The move comes less than four months after HNA revealed its ownership structure amid heightened regulatory scrutiny in the US and China.

Roesler's appointment is also a sign of HNA's commitment to being a long-term investor in Europe and specifically Germany, where it is Deutsche Bank's largest shareholder with a stake of just under 10pc, the people said.

HNA came into focus in Germany in July, when the European Central Bank considered a review of the conglomerate for its role as the largest investor in Deutsche Bank, people familiar with the matter said at the time. Such reviews typically focus on an owner's financing structure and mid-term strategy. Felix Hufeld, who heads Germany's financial regulator, told Bloomberg in September that HNA can expect more scrutiny if it boosts its Deutsche Bank holding.

Roesler, 44, would provide HNA with political connections. Born in Vietnam and adopted by a German couple as a baby, Roesler was the country's economy minister and vice chancellor for the pro-business FPD party from 2011 to 2013 and has been a vocal supporter of Chinese investments in Germany. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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