Billionaire Cheng Family’s New World Buys China Logistics Assets, Sells Aircraft Leasing Firm
NWS Holdings—a unit of New World Development that’s controlled by billionaire Henry Cheng and his family—has agreed to buy six logistics properties in China from Australia’s Goodman Group for 2.29 billion yuan ($338 million) as the Hong Kong-based developer seeks to tap the e-commerce boom, while divesting aircraft leasing firm Goshawk Aviation Ltd.
In regulatory filing on Monday, NWS said it and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, also controlled by the Cheng family, have agreed to sell Goshawk, which owns and manageds over 200 aircraft, to Japan’s SMBC Aviation Capital for a cash consideration of $1.67 billion, valuing the Dublin-based aircraft leasing company at $6.7 billion.
“The transaction presents an excellent opportunity for NWS to unlock value for our shareholders and mitigate uncertainties and volatilities caused by macro factors such as changes in interest rates and the Covid-19 pandemic,” Eric Ma, CEO of NWS, said in a statement. “This is also in line with NWS’s corporate strategy in optimizing our business portfolio and continuing to invest in opportunities with progressive cash flow and return to achieve long-term sustainable growth.”
NWS, which also has interests in toll roads, construction and insurance, has been building new businesses such as logistics. The company has agreed to buy logistics properties from Goodman with a total gross leasable area of 531,000 square meters across the Chinese cities of Chengdu and Wuhan, more than doubling its portfolio to more than 1 million square meters.
The properties being acquired include five operating logistics facilities, which generated over 100 million yuan in rental income last year, and another one expected to be completed this year. With an average occupancy of about 90%, the properties’ tenants included third-party logistics providers, international retailers and e-commerce companies.
“The development of the logistics industry is underpinned by supportive government policies,” Ma said in a separate statement. “It is also benefiting from the thriving e-commerce and fast-developing multimodal transportation, further bolstering market demand. The group is confident about the outlook of the industry in the mainland and Hong Kong and we are committed to expanding our business in this field.”
Investors including Hong Kong-listed ESR Cayman and U.S. private equity firm Blackstone have been expanding their footprint in China’s logistics space, anticipating increasing demand from e-commerce players. In February, ESR—which counts Warburg Pincus, Singaporean real estate tycoon John Lim and billionaire Chew Gek Khim’s Straits Trading among its investors—bought a portfolio of 11 logistics properties in Shanghai and the nearby cities of Suzhou and Hangzhou. In December, Blackstone took full ownership of a logistics park in Guangzhou.
Logistics is a new growth area for New World Development, a developer of residential and commercial properties that was founded by the late Hong Kong billionaire Cheng Yu-Tung over five decades ago. After his death, Cheng was succeed by his son Henry as chairman of both Chow Tai Fook Jewellery and New World. With a net worth of $26.4 billion, the family ranked No. 3 on the list of Hong Kong’s 50 Richest that was published in February.