China-based conglomerate, HNA, has joined the race to buy Aman Resorts, the biggest non-core asset of realty major DLF. The 68 billion-RMB group, which is into airlines, hotels, airport management, real estate, retail and tourism, is learnt to have offered above Rs 2,000 crore for the resorts. The bid amounts received from others, including Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah, luxury fashion group Louis Vuitton and Kingdom Holdings, which owns the five-star hotel chain Four Seasons, were in the range of Rs 1,800 crore to 2,000 crore. DLF, the largest realtor in the country by market capitalisation, is expected to announce the Aman Resort deal by mid-January. Goldman Sachs and Citi Group are advising it. The founder of Aman Resorts, Adrian Zecha, will be a part of the final decision.
DLF had bought 97 per cent stake in the company for a valuation of $400 million (Rs 2,120 crore according to the current rupee value) in 2007, during the realty boom, while the remaining three per cent remained with Zecha. Since the downturn in the sector, DLF has been looking for a buyer for this property. HNA Hotels and Resorts is part of the HNA Group based out of China and is headed by Chen Feng, the board chairman. It operates 40 luxury hotels and resorts in China and has three hotel assets in Brussels and Belgium. The Aman Resorts has 25 assets across Thailand, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, France, Indonesia, Laos, Montenegro, Morocco, Philippines, Sri Lanka, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the US. It has three properties in India. After the stake offloading, DLF will retain the Delhi Aman property. The other two assets are in Rajasthan — the Aman-i-Khas and Amanbagh — which would change hands.