The Real Deal New York

HNA drops $300M defamation suit against exiled Chinese real estate billionaire

Guo Wengui, who said the conglomerate was run by a member of China's Communist Party, is living at the Sherry Netherland
March 06, 2019 09:30AM

HNA Chairman Chen Feng (inset) and Guo Wengui at his penthouse apartment in the Sherry Netherland (Credit: World Travel and Tourism Council via Flickr and Getty Images)

HNA has dropped a $300 million defamation lawsuit against Chinese businessman Guo Wengui, dismissing it as a distraction to the company.

Guo, the exiled real estate billionaire who lives at the Sherry Netherland in New York, has claimed that a member of China’s Communist party, Wang Qishan, holds a shadow stake in the conglomerate through his nephew, Yao Qing.

The Sherry Netherland at 781 5th Avenue (Credit: Wikipedia)

In dropping the suit, which was filed in 2017, HNA’s attorneys said that Guo’s comments “are no longer of public concern,” and that to pursuing the action “unnecessarily distracts from its key business priorities,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

The claims came at a time when the Chinese conglomerate was on a $40 billion buying spree in the United States, including stakes in Deutsche Bank AG and Hilton hotels and Anthony Scaramucci’s Skybridge. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Skybridge all walked away from deals with the firm, which has an opaque ownership structure.

Guo, who also goes by the name Miles Kwok, has been living in his $67 million penthouse apartment in the Sherry Netherland and is seeking asylum in the United States following claims of widespread corruption in China.

Guo recently filed a $300 million lawsuit against Soho China, alleging the developer’s slander suit against him cost loss of rental income, termination of construction projects, and attorney fees. He is also seeking to sell his Sherry-Netherland pad. He first listed the seven bedroom, eight bathroom apartment for $86 million in 2015. Since then he’s dropped the price to $67 million. Douglas Elliman’s Richard Steinberg has the listing. [WSJ] — David Jeans