Mapped: HNA-affiliated Real Estate Holdings in the U.S.

The opaque ownership structure of Group Co., Ltd., a Hainan-based conglomerate that has since 2015 acquired $45 billion in global assets, has attracted the firm substantial media and regulatory scrutiny in recent months. An ongoing government crackdown on capital outflows, buoyed by the release of explosive allegations by fugitive millionaire about the conglomerate’s political ties (over which HNA is currently suing him), have put the company under the global spotlight. A recent article in The New York Times by David Barboza examines the company’s disavowed links to the New York-based Pacific American Corporation.

Based on publicly available sources and database queries, China Digital Times has catalogued some of the U.S. properties owned by HNA Group and affiliated individuals and companies, which we have edited into a Google Map. The listed properties predominantly include residential properties on the East Coast. In total, eight individuals and nine affiliated companies hold 36 properties. China Digital Times welcomes its readers and netizens to use open-source data to expand and improve upon this map by including more states and nations, in order to increase public awareness of HNA Group, its affiliated individuals, and its assets. To provide further leads or feedback, please email sandra@chinadigitaltimes.net. (Maps: Chinese versionEnglish version / List: Chinese versionEnglish version)

Map includes an incomplete list of U.S. properties owned by HNA Group and affiliated individuals / companies

Spreadsheet of incomplete list of HNA-affiliated U.S. property owners:

A few pieces of essential information needed to understand the maps and the spreadsheet:

  1. Pacific American Corporation [formerly known as Hainan American Co.], was registered and established in 1991 in New York by HNA Group founder and chairman Chen Feng’s younger brother Chen Guoqing.
  2. Chen Xiaofeng (Daniel Chen): Chen Feng’s son and American citizen. Chairman of HNA Group North America LLC and Pacific American Corporation.
  3. Tan Xiangdong (Adam Tan): CEO of HNA Group; formerly Pacific American Corporation’s vice-chairman.
  4. Meng Fanchen, Li Dongjiang: used their status as senior management over the long-term to sign off on various Pacific American Corporation documents.
  5. Abbreviated address written as 2WFC 36001 refers to New York’s 2 World Financial Center STE 36001. It serves as Pacific American Corporation’s headquarters.
  6. In legal documents, Pacific American Corporation was once described as a subsidiary of HNA Group. However, it has also subsequently denied its affiliation. After Guo Wengui’s “Who is Guan Jun?” went viral, HNA revealed the Hainan Cihang Charity Foundation, and once again denied any affiliation with Pacific American Corporation.  (For more on the relationship between HNA and PAC, see a recent New York Times article.)

 

Examples of connections between individuals and affiliated companies:  

Example 1:

With affiliated companies listed on the map, purchase deeds show that PAC Air LLC, One57 66A LLC, One57 86 LLC, PAC Wholly Own LLC, and PAC Liberty Properties LLC share the same address as Pacific American’s 2WFC 36001 address. Via handwriting verification analysis procedures, those responsible firms/agents signing for the affiliated companies’ purchase deeds are repeatedly seen as these three: Meng Fanchen, Li Dongjiang, Chen Guoqing.

In 1997, in documents detailing HNA North American LLC (Bermuda)’s purchase of a set of properties in the Trump International Hotel and Tower, Chen Guoqing signed (in Chinese) as vice-chairman.  

Example 2:

Eastern Shine Holding LLC holds four apartments in Lower Manhattan, and all were authorized by a Yan Mao. Through handwriting verification analysis, it was seen that this Yan Mao was also the trustee for married couple Tan Xiangdong and Zou Tao’s four jointly or individually held apartments. The client’s address provided all led back to Tan and Zou’s luxury place on Watchung Crest Drive in New Jersey. On recent property tax forms for Watchung Crest, the head of household’s address is the (extraordinarily large) Taconic Road residence. The holder of this Taconic Road property is Eastern Shine Holding LLC.

Yan Mao signed for the New Jersey address. He has also appeared on board member rosters for certain Hong Kong companies, along with Chen Xiaofeng.

Interconnected circles such as this are very common, so there must be some hidden, as of yet undiscovered clues.  

An example of search tools used:

New York City Department of Finance’s Automated City Register Information System not only has a trove of data but powerful retrieval capabilities, no paywall, and provided the greatest quantity of relevant information.

One can take the below graphic as an example. Inputting the property owner’s surname, company name, property address, or different types of documentation will also return substantial results.

Caption: Screenshot of New York City housing transactions database

For example, by searching company name “Pacific American Corporation”, if one then selects “deed” when specifying type of documentation, the results grant a preliminary understanding of number of properties held by this particular company.

Detailed U.S. property records are at times archived at a county level. Therefore, looking for data from other counties requires going to a different website entirely.

 

Sites utilized for this project:

New York City Department of Finance Automated City Register Information System
New York Department of State Corporation & Business Entity Database
State of New Jersey Business Records Service
New Jersey Property Information
New Jersey Property Tax List Search
New Jersey Assessment Records Search
Town of Greenwich Property Tax Bill Database
Hong Kong Companies Registry Information System

Research for this post was conducted by Sandra Fu and translation by Lisbeth. See the maps and spreadsheet in Chinese.