March 13, 2018 / 9:16 PM / 8 days ago

UPDATE 1-China's HNA to sell 25 percent stake in Hilton Grand Vacations

(Adds details on deal, background)

March 13 (Reuters) - Chinese conglomerate HNA Group will sell its 25 percent stake in Hilton Grand Vacations Inc, the timeshare business spun off last year from U.S. hotel chain Hilton Worldwide, Hilton Grand said on Tuesday.

The sale is the latest attempt by HNA, an aviation-to-financial services conglomerate, to restructure its far-flung operations and raise cash by selling equity and prime real estate assets.

Its restructuring drive also follows a $50 billion acquisition spree over the past two years, which has sparked scrutiny of its opaque ownership and use of leverage.

HNA’s Kenneth Wong has resigned from Hilton Grand Vacations’ board, while the Chinese firm has asked Yasheng Huang, its designated independent director at Hilton, to also step down.

HNA bought a 25 percent stake in hotel chain Hilton Worldwide from Blackstone Group in 2016. Thanks to that deal, the conglomerate built similar stakes in Hilton’s two spun-off units — Park Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Grand.

Park Hotels disclosed earlier this month that HNA planned to sell some or all of its 25 percent stake in Park.

HNA will sell its Hilton Grand stake through a stock offering of 24.8 million shares, which were worth around $1.1 billion at the stock’s Tuesday closing price of $45.80. Hilton Grand shares fell 1.7 percent to $45 in after-hours trading.

The offering is expected to be priced on Wednesday after U.S. markets close, according to joint book-runners BofA Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan.

Hilton Grand has an option to buy back up to 4.34 million shares owned by HNA. (Reporting by Arunima Banerjee and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Lance Tupper in New York; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)

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