While Eberly said he doesn’t believe the deal ultimately factored into Scaramucci’s removal, he said CFIUS refusal would have been “a major embarrassment” for the White House.
Owner of Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines, HNA Group is one of many Chinese corporates under scrutiny by regulators for its global spending spree — estimated at upwards of $50 billion since 2015, according to Dealogic.
Last week, HNA’s $416 million investment into Global Eagle Entertainment was blocked amid concerns over customer data exchanged on the U.S. firm’s WiFi, Reuters reported. The Chinese firm previously received the green light for various U.S. transactions, including a 25 percent stake in Hilton and the acquisition of Ingram Micro.
Concerns over HNA’s opaque structure are also in the spotlight. Last week, HNA revealed details of its ownership structure in an attempt to clear confusion following recent allegations that relatives of top Communist Party officials held stakes in the group.
It’s not just HNA under Washington’s microscope. Broad caution on the part of CFIUS resulted in a historically high number of rejected deals this year, Reuters reported last week.
CFIUS does remain open to Chinese investment, David Dollar, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the U.S. Treasury’s former economic and financial emissary to China, recently told CNBC, noting examples such as the approved Shuanghui-Smithfield deal.
Dollar did acknowledge, however, that the current wave of Chinese investment into the U.S. was “enormous,” adding that he expected around 50 deals from the mainland this year.