BEIJING (AP) — The chairman and CEO of HNA Group, the Chinese airline operator that ran into financial trouble following a global acquisition spree beginning in 2014, have been detained on suspicion of committing crimes, the company announced Friday.
Chen Feng and Tan Xiangdong were “taken under compulsory measures” by police in the southern island province of Hainan due to “suspicion of crime,” the company said on its social media account. It gave no details but said operations “are not affected.”
HNA Group, which operates Hainan Airlines and other carriers, was struggling with $75 billion in debt when last year’s shutdown of global travel to fight the coronavirus pandemic devastated its aviation business. The Hainan government took control in February 2020.
HNA Group bought hotels, a stake in Deutschebank AG and other assets abroad starting in 2014, financed by bank loans and bond sales. Regulators clamped down in 2016.
The company attracted attention in Washington in 2017 when it agreed to buy a hedge fund from Anthony Scaramucci, who was due to take a White House post as then-President Donald Trump’s liaison to Wall Street. The deal never was completed and the two sides called it off in 2018.