Posted: March 8th, 2018
DE-Tenants.org previously reported that the former Emir and former Prime Minister of Qatar hold large investment positions in Deutsche Bank (HERE and HERE). The two Al Thani men, who are cousins, control a combined stake of nearly 10% in Deutsche Bank, making them the second largest shareholder. Meanwhile, Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co., cofounded by billionaire brothers Chen Feng (陈峰) and Chen Guoqing (陈国庆), holds a slightly larger stake at 9.92%.
The ownership concentration between HNA and the two Qataris—who, combined, control approximately 20% of Deutsche Bank shares—has piqued the interest of European financial regulators. The Single Supervision Mechanism (SSM), the banking watchdog that operates under the European Central Bank, was considering investigations into HNA and the Qataris’ stock purchases. There has been reported suspicion that the Qataris and HNA had coordinated their investments in Deutsche. Per one source, the European Central Bank seeks to determine if the Qataris and HNA are “fit and proper owners of significant stakes in [Deutsche Bank].”
HNA has faced recent inquiries of its opaque ownership structure by Swiss authorities. Bank of America and Goldman Sachs have refused to do business with HNA due to its lack of transparency. The former cited concerns over its murky shareholder structure and allegations of political connections.
Today’s post will reveal our original reporting on one of HNA Group’s principals, Chen Guoqing (陈国庆). Chen Guoqing represents HNA Group in the United States, where he has left a large corporate footprint. DE-Tenants.org has learned that Chen Guoqing, his wife and associated corporate vehicles have owned 21 homes in the greater New York City area estimated to be worth $197,161,364. They retain 15 of the homes at present, worth $161,671,766. One of the properties, purchased in 1997 and still owned today, is located in Trump International Hotel and Tower, located at 1 Central Park West.
Revelation of these astounding property purchases comes as HNA Group faces “intense scrutiny” at home in China amid concerns over “uncontrolled capital outflows” (SOURCE).
Greater New York Area Real Estate Owned by Chen Guoqing (陈国庆)
Chen Guoqing, the brother of HNA Group Chair Chen Feng, serves as chair of HNA Group North America and has become increasingly involved in American think tanks. Chen Guoqing serves on the board of trustees to the China Institute and the Asia Society and is a member of the Committee of 100, an influential organization that represents prominent Chinese-American business leaders. Chen Guoqing is a former trustee of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and a current trustee of Brown University.
In February 2015, the New York real estate trade publication called The Real Deal reported that Chen Guoqing, the founder of China’s largest private airline company, paid $47.4 million for a full-floor condo at one of Extell Development’s latest buildings, One57, located at 157 West 57th Street.
Two months later in April 2015, The New York Times reported that Chen Guoqing purchased a second full-floor unit in One57.
However, so far as DE-Tenants.org can tell, media have failed to discover that Chen is linked to third and fourth properties in One57. Additionally, 17 other residential, single-family homes owned by Chen, his wife and associated corporate vehicles have gone unnoticed by the press. Today we will profile a selection of these property transactions, and in subsequent posts we will delve into Chen’s U.S.-based business interests.
|Address On-paper||Owner||Acquisition Date||Purchase Price / Assessed Value||Linked Firms/Authorized Representatives|
|157 West 57th Street, Unit 86, New York, New York 10019||One57 86 LLC||January 21, 2015||$47,366,989 (Purchase)||Chen Guoqing; Li Dongjiang; Pacific American Corp.|
|157 West 57th Street, Unit 88, New York, New York 10019||PAC Air LLC||March 18, 2015||$47,367,491 (Purchase)||Li Dongjiang; PAC Wholly Own LLC; George F. Meng; Xiaoyi Sun|
|157 West 57th Street, Unit 66A, New York, New York 10019||One57 66A LLC||October 14, 2014||$29,533,450 (Purchase)||Li Dongjiang|
|157 West 57th Street, Unit 67A, New York, New York 10019||One57 67A LLC||March 16, 2015||$30,042,375 (Purchase)||Li Dongjiang; PAC Liberty Properties LLC|
|52 Burnet Hill Road, Livingston, New Jersey 07039||Chen Guoqing; Liu Ming||September 19, 2002||$1,270,400 (Assessment)|
|230 West 56th Street, Unit 50B, New York, New York 10019||Chen Guoqing; Liu Ming||March 14, 2003||$1,210,000 (Purchase)|
|20 Newport Parkway, Unit 2511, Jersey City, New Jersey 07310||Chen Guoqing||June 6, 2007 (sold in November 2015)||$729,400 (Purchase)|
|15 Central Park West, Unit 37D, New York, NY 10023||PAC Air LLC||February 15, 2008 (sold in July 2015)||$12,086,627 (Purchase)||Chen Guoqing; Li Dongjiang; PAC Air LLC; George F. Meng; Xiaoyi Sun|
|50 Riverside Blvd, Unit 12B, New York, NY 10069||Liu Ming||November 3, 2015||$2,692,180 (Purchase)|
|230 West 56th Street, Unit 68B, New York, New York 10019||Pacific American Corporation||July 14, 2003 (sold in June 2014)||$2,153,599 (Purchase)||Chen Guoqing; Li Dongjiang; George F. Meng|
|2 River Terrace, Unit 10S, New York, New York 10282||PAC Liberty Properties LLC and Landmark Regal LLC||September 12, 2008 (sold in June 2017)||$2,067,047 (Purchase)||Chen Guoqing; George F. Meng; Qing Li|
|20 Newport Parkway, Unit 2702, Jersey City, New Jersey 07310||Pacific American Corporation||October 1, 2007||$626,000 (Purchase)|
|80 Columbus Circle, Unit NT75E, New York, NY 10023||Pacific American Corporation||May 18, 2004 (sold in December 2014)||$2,952,925 (Purchase)||Chen Guoqing; Li Dongjiang; George F. Meng|
|80 Columbus Circle, Unit N170B, New York, NY 10023||Pacific American Corporation||October 7, 2010 (sold in June 2012)||$15,500,000 (Purchase)||Chen Guoqing; “Daniel” Chen Xiaofeng; Li Dongjiang; George F. Meng; PAC Air LLC; Hainan Airlines Co. Ltd.|
|45 River Drive South, Unit 605, Jersey City, NJ 07310||Pacific American Corporation||February 27, 1992||$198,900 (Assessment)|
|45 River Drive South, Unit 612, Jersey City, NJ 07310||Pacific American Corporation||April 22, 1994||$197,300 (Assessment)|
|45 River Drive South, Unit 915, Jersey City, NJ 07310||Pacific American Corporation||April 3, 1992||$184,500 (Assessment)|
|45 River Drive South, Unit 2710, Jersey City, NJ 07310||Pacific American Corporation||August 18, 1994||$250,100 (Assessment)|
|Trump International, 1 Central Park West, Unit 25E, New York, NY 10023||Pacific American Corporation (formerly Hainan American Co., Ltd.)||August 19, 1997||$360,281 (Market Value per NYC Dept. of Finance)||Chen Guoqing|
|313 1st Street, Unit 101, Jersey City, NJ 07302||PAC First Properties LLC||May 23, 2008||$141,700 (Assessment)|
|313 1st Street, Unit 102, Jersey City, NJ 07302||PAC First Properties LLC||May 23, 2008||$230,100 (Assessment)|
Full-floor condo on 86th floor of One57
Chen Guoqing (陈国庆), co-founder of HNA Group, closed on the 86th floor unit on January 21, 2015, according to The Real Deal citing property records filed with New York City. The full-floor unit measures 6,200 square feet and has four bedrooms and four bathrooms. Chen Guoqing paid $7,645 per square foot for the luxury condo, according to The Real Deal.
HNA Group is China’s largest private airline conglomerate and ranks on the Fortune 500. It engages in air transportation, airport services, hotels, and travel services. One of the conglomerate’s key entities is Hainan Airlines, China's largest private carrier headed by Chen Guoqing’s brother Chen Feng (陈峰) (SOURCE).
The public documents cited (and depicted below) list the buyer of the 86th floor as “One57 86 LLC”. The authorized signatory signing on behalf of the purchaser was an individual named “Li Dongjiang”. The precise price tag stood at $47,366,989.
But Chen Guoqing’s name is listed on the related January 2015 mortgage. The mortgage indicated that the 86th floor was purchased for $17.2 million in cash; $30.2 million was paid with a mortgage. That mortgage, from China CITIC Bank International Limited, also names and HNA subsidiary called Pacific American Corporation (PAC). PAC is the purchasing arm for Hainan Airlines headquartered in New York City and overseen by Chen Guoqing, PAC’s CEO and vice president.
Below are excerpts from the mortgage.
Chen Guoqing was identified as the owner when the mortgage document cited Chen as the debtor party (“the mortgagor”) in the section dedicated to contact information. Otherwise, the document consistently references Li Dongjiang as the authorized signatory.
The initial mortgage was followed by a second mortgage from China CITIC Bank International Limited and issued to Pacific American Corporation in December 2015 for $16.9 million, accounting for the remainder of the condo’s $47 million price tag.
Following the purchase of the 86th floor, the shell company One57 86 LLC filed an “Assignment of Lease” document disclosing that “HNA Group Co. Ltd.” will be the tenant to the property. HNA signed the relevant lease in May 2014. It is unclear why HNA Group would want a residential property. HNA Group is headed by Chen Guoqing and his brother Chen Feng.
Full-floor condo on 88th floor of One57
Two months later in April 2015, The New York Times reported that Chen Guoqing had purchased a second full-floor condo in One57, this time two levels higher on the 88th floor. The Times described the building as a “blue-glass bastion of billionaires”.
The residence was purchased in March for $47,367,491 through a limited liability company called “PAC Wholly Own LLC,” which records show is associated with the Pacific American Corporation (PAC), a New York subsidiary of the HNA Group.
PAC Wholly Own reported the same law firm (Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP) and address (225 Liberty Street) as Pacific American Corporation. The property transfer report included as part of the relevant deed and completed by hand even indicated that tax bills and mail correspondence should be sent to Pacific American Corporation before the preparer struck PAC’s name and replaced it with “PAC Air LLC”. PAC Air LLC is another firm linked to HNA Group.
The record discloses that Chen originally entered into contract to purchase the 88th floor in November 2011. It is unknown if he put down a deposit at that time.
The 88th floor condo has four bedrooms and five and a half baths and over 6,231 square feet. The monthly carrying charges are $12,683 according to The Times.
In order to purchase the full-floor condo PAC Wholly Own relied on a substantial mortgage. PAC Wholly Own paid $17.14 million in cash; $30,225,000 was paid with a mortgage from Cathay Bank. That mortgage also names PAC Air LLC.
Following the property transfer in March 2015, PAC Wholly Own signed over the condo to PAC Air LLC in September 2015 free of charge (SOURCE). Whereas PAC Wholly Own had always been signed for by professional representatives linked to the title company Fidelity National Financial Inc., the September deed featured signatures by Li Dongjiang, signing on behalf of PAC Air LLC (the “grantee”). See below for excerpts from the September 2015 deed.
Li Dongjiang had served as the authorized signatory signing on behalf Chen Guoqing when Chen previously purchased the 86th floor of One57 in January 2015. A contemporaneous document from July 2015 shows Li Dongjiang as the authorized signatory for PAC Air LLC (SOURCE and SOURCE).
Condo 66A & Condo 67A at One57
News outlets failed to note two other luxury condos Chen Guoqing has purchased in One57: unit 66A and unit 67A. Following the same established pattern, the two units were purchased by specialized limited liability companies (respectively, One57 66A LLC and One57 67A LLC) and they linked back to the same law firm (Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP) and address (225 Liberty Street) used in the transactions reported in the media. Li Dongjiang signed as an authorized representative in both instances.
Unit 66A was purchased by One57 66A LLC in October 2014 for over $29.5 million. Again, the contract date was November 2011.
Li Dongjiang signed the relevant paperwork in the deed along with a representative of the property developer Extell.
Although, over $10 million of the price tag was apparently paid in cash, the purchase of unit 66A involved a nearly $19 million mortgage from Cathay Bank.
Unit 67A was purchased in March 2015 for $30 million.
Again, Li Dongjiang signed the relevant paperwork in the deed.
The purchase involved an initial $19 million mortgage from China CITIC Bank, issued simultaneously with the purchase in March 2015. Subsequently, One57 67A LLC took on a second mortgage for $11.1 million to cover the full purchase cost.
Below is an excerpt from the first mortgage.
The first mortgage was backed by a new firm called “PAC Liberty Properties LLC”. PAC Liberty Properties apparently gets its name from the Hainan Airlines subsidiary headed by Chen Guoqing, Pacific American Corporation (PAC). PAC Liberty Properties uses the PAC address at 225 Liberty Street, a business hub for HNA Group operations in the U.S., and Chen Guoqing is the sole principal linked to PAC Liberty Properties according to records from the New York Secretary of State (SOURCE).
Li Dongjiang again signed on behalf of PAC Liberty Properties.
One57 67A LLC’s second mortgage for $11.1 million revealed direct links to Chen Guoqing, featuring Chen as a “manager” of One57 67A LLC.
Following the purchase of unit 67A, the shell company One57 67A LLC filed an “Assignment of Lease” document disclosing that “HNA Group Co. Ltd.” will be the tenant to the property. HNA signed the relevant lease in May 2015. The unit linked to Chen Guoqing on the 86th floor of One57 had already been leased to HNA Group a full year prior. It is unclear why HNA Group would want the residential properties. HNA Group is headed by Chen Guoqing and his brother Chen Feng.
52 Burnet Hill Road, Livingston, New Jersey
Corporate records and property documents have linked Chen Guoqing to an address at 52 Burnet Hill Road in the town of Livingston, New Jersey. For example, a firm called PAC Developments Inc. operates out of the main PAC/Hainan Airlines business hub at 225 Liberty Street. Records from the New York Secretary of State identify the firm’s CEO as Chen Guoqing, living at the 52 Burnet Hill Road address (SOURCE).
New Jersey property records confirm that Chen Guoqing does own the address with a woman identified in property records as his wife, Ms. Liu Ming. They purchased the property in September 2002, a matter of days after PAC Developments Inc. was incorporated in August 2002. The property is currently worth $1,270,400 as of 2017.
The Park Imperial—230 W 56th Street, Units 50B and 68B
The address at 52 Burnet Hill Road in turn links Chen Guoqing to two more properties. First is a luxury condominium unit at the Park Imperial, a development of the real estate giant Related Group. Chen Guoqing and Liu Ming purchased unit 50B together in March of 2003 for $1.2 million.
A mortgage document confirms Chen Guoqing and Liu Ming are married:
A document in the deed was signed by Chen Guoqing.
DE-Tenants.org also discovered that Pacific American Corp. purchased Unit 68B in the same building in July 2003 for $2,115,000. The deed was signed by Chen Guoqing. Pacific American sold the Unit 68B in June 2014.
20 Newport Parkway, Units 2511 and 2702
The address at 52 Burnet Hill Road linked Chen Guoqing to another condo property at 20 Newport Parkway, Unit 2511, in Jersey City—immediately across the Hudson River from Manhattan. Purchased in June 2007 for $729,400, Chen Guoqing sold the property in November 2015.
DE-Tenants.org found another condo, Unit 2702, in the same building purchased by Pacific American Corp for $626,000 in October 2007.
15 Central Park West, Unit 37D
In February 2008, PAC Air LLC purchased a single-family residential condo located at 15 Central Park West, Unit 37D, for $12,086,627.
The $12 million purchase price was paid for using an $8.9 million loan issued by HSBC.
But PAC Air LLC subsequently took out two additional loans from HSBC worth in excess of $3.5 million. Chen Guoqing is mentioned in the October 2010 mortgage for one of the two subsequent loans.
PAC Air LLC sold the unit at 15 Central Park West in July of 2015 for $22 million. The buyer was a New York entity called Radiant Palace (US) LLC. The owner of Radiant Palace is unknown but the entity was incorporated in March 2015, four months before the sale. The authorized signatory of Radiant Palace was a person called “Shanming Shi”.
50 Riverside Boulevard, 12B
In November 2015, Chen Guoqing’s wife Ms. Liu Ming purchased condo unit 12B of 50 Riverside Boulevard for $2,692,180.
Ms. Liu reported her address at 15 Central Park West, even though PAC Air LLC had sold that address four months prior in July of 2015.
Ms. Liu still owns unit 12B of 50 Riverside Boulevard today.
80 Columbus Circle, Unit NT75E and Unit N170B
In May 2004, Pacific American Corporation acquired an ultra-luxury condo at 80 Columbus Circle, also known as The Residences at Mandarin Oriental. 80 Columbus Circle is one of the two towers that comprise the Time Warner Center—a mixed-use twin-tower building overlooking Columbus Circle and the southwest corner of Manhattan’s Central Park.
The price tag for Unit NT75E was $2,952,925.
The names or signatures of Chen Guoqing, Li Dongjiang, and George F. Meng appeared on relevant paperwork.
In October 2010 Pacific American Corporation acquired a second condo at 80 Columbus Circle—this time, Unit N170B for $15.5 million.
The names or signatures of Chen Guoqing, “Daniel” Chen Xiaofeng, Li Dongjiang, George F. Meng, PAC Air LLC, and Hainan Airlines Co. Ltd. appeared on relevant paperwork—including on a $9.3 million mortgage from HSBC.
Pacific American Corporation sold both units in 80 Columbus Circle beginning with Unit N170B which was sold in June of 2012 for a handsome $1.5 million profit. Unit NT75E was later sold in December 2014 for nearly $4.3 million in profit.
Trump International, 1 Central Park West, Unit 25E
Pacific American Corporation (formerly Hainan American Co., Ltd.) made its first known New York property acquisition in August 1997 when it purchased Unit 25E of the newly renovated Trump International, located at 1 Central Park West, overlooking Columbus Circle and the southwest corner of Manhattan’s Central Park, just a stone’s throw from PAC’s other properties at 80 Columbus Circle. Chen Guoqing personally signed the deed. PAC still owns this property today.
The purchase price is unknown, but the New York City Department of Finance assessed the market value of the condo to be $360,281 in January 2017. In this instance, the Department of Finance defines market value as “the estimated value for residential buildings with more than 10 units based on income and expense information provided by owners from renting these properties.”
The Department of Finance’s market value may be drastically undervalued. As a case in point, Pacific American Corporation sold Unit N170B at 80 Columbus Circle in June 2012 for $17 million according to a deed document. However, per the same document the home was assessed by the city to be worth a mere $508,278. This is depicted in an image above.