HNA, the fourth-largest airline in terms of fleet size in China has become the main contender who expressed interest to take over the Airline on terms acceptable for Sri Lanka, a top diplomat involved in the negotiations disclosed.
Multi billionaire George Soros whose American Aviation LLC, had been a major shareholder of the airline since 1995 is fully backing the deal as he has a keen interest on economic revival of Sri, the diplomat added.
Chinese Airline authorities were keen to gain air access to South Asian region its plan Known as One Belt, One Road to build veins of trade over land and sea into Europe and Asia with an investment of almost US$1 trillion already announced, he pointed out.
HNA, which operates domestic and international services on 500 routes from Hainan and nine locations on the mainland, as well as charter services, is to expand its wings to Asia and the Middle East as well as Europe following the acquisition of Sri Lankan Airlines, he said.
Expression of Interests (EOIs) were called this month by National Savings Bank Fund Management Co Ltd as the lead manager for the reorientation of SriLankan Airlines Limited and Mihin Lanka (Private) limited.
Investors who are willing to submit EOIs have to pay a non-refundable fee of $5,000 to access the documentation. The deadline for the submission of completed EOI is 24th August 2016.
SriLankan Airlines has a total of 3.252 billion dollars in debt which is 460 Billion in rupees as Sri Lanka cannot re-pay this debt. Therefore, the government will take over some of its debt and will seek a partner who can manage the Airline so that it would not incur any more debt in the future.