“It sounds very positive”: Dufry Group CEO Julían Díaz upbeat about HNA shareholding

Julían Díaz: “The opportunity with a company of that size, which manages millions of Chinese customers, sounds positive.”

INTERNATIONAL. Dufry Group CEO Julían Díaz said that the company has not yet had direct contact from HNA Group about its purchase of a 16.79% share in the travel retailer. But he was upbeat about the Chinese conglomerate’s ability to influence the growth of Dufry’s Asian business.

Díaz was speaking to investors during the company’s Q1 results conference call today. As reported, ambitious Chinese aviation-to-hospitality group HNA is set to acquire its shareholding from Singaporean wealth funds GIC and Temasek.

Díaz said: “We have not been contacted yet, and we have not met with HNA’s representatives yet. What we have seen is the communication from HNA on the one side and GIC/Temasek on the other that they have the intention to perform this transaction.”

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and should be concluded by 21 August, noted Díaz.

He added: “From my side it sounds very positive. Our company is very interested in expanding in Asia. The opportunity with a company of that size, which manages millions of Chinese customers, from the tour operator side to the hotel side, sounds positive. But we have not discussed anything yet.”


As reported, Chinese aviation-to-leisure giant HNA Group approached Dufry’s sovereign wealth fund shareholder GIC and fellow Singaporean fund Temasek in March regarding an investment in the world’s biggest travel retail company. The two Singaporean funds collectively held over 16% of Dufry stock.

As reported, HNA Group had to make a public disclosure once it reached a 3% holding. However, the Swiss take-over code means that a mandatory offer for the whole company is not  triggered unless a stake larger than 33.33% changes hands.

Click on the link for the latest edition of The Moodie Davitt e-Zine, in which we analyse the implications of HNA’s swoop for a stake in Dufry.


Dufry operates around 2,200 duty free and duty paid shops in airports, cruise lines, seaports, railway stations and downtown tourist areas.

The Swiss retailer employs close to 29,000 people. The company, headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, operates in 64 countries in all five continents.

Chinese conglomerate HNA Group has been very active in recent times in making acquisitions across its fields of interest with aviation and aviation-related services central to the expansion. Here is a selected timeline of some of its main deals:

  • December 2016: As reported, HNA completes acquisition of gategroup, the Swiss inflight services provider, in a transaction valued at CHF1.4 billion (US$1.47 billion).
  • December 2016: Completes acquisition of IT products and services company Ingram Micro through subsidiary Tianjin Tianhai Investment Company. The all-cash transaction is for US$38.90 per share with an equity value of approximately US$6 billion.
  • December 2016: Closes deal to acquire Carlson Hotels through subsidiary HNA Tourism Group. Also acquires Carlson’s 51.3% stake in Brussels-based Rezidor Hotel Group.
  • October 2016: China Duty Free Group parent company China International Travel Service votes at its board meeting on 28 October to create a joint venturewith Hainan Duty Free.
  • October 2016: Announces intention to purchase a quarter of Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. for US$6.5 billion.
  • October 2016: Buys CIT Group’s aircraft leasing business for US$10 billion.
  • May 2016: Agrees to purchase 13% of Virgin Australia for US$114 million, with plans to raise that stake to about 20%.
  • March 2016: Increases stake in Deutsche Bank from 3.04% to 4.76%.
  • March 2016: Acquires Manhattan’s 245 Park Avenue skyscraper for US$2.21 billion.
  • November 2015: Agrees to buy 23.7% stake in Azul Brazilian Airlines for US$450 million through subsidiary Hainan Airlines.
  • July 2015: Agrees to buy airport luggage handler Swissport International from PAI Partners for US$2.81 billion.

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