HNA Group operators the flagship Hainan Airlines. Photo: Reuters
HNA Group operators the flagship Hainan Airlines. Photo: Reuters

A unit of China’s HNA Group will pay HK$8.8 billion (US$1.13 billion) for a plot of residential land in Hong Kong, almost double market forecasts, making it the most expensive land deal yet in the city this year as the aviation and shipping giant stepped up its international buying spree.

The transaction, the first land acquisition by HNA in Hong Kong, comes as the city steps up efforts to contain prices in one of the world’s most expensive property markets.

HNA — the operator of at least a dozen airlines, including flagship carrier Hainan Airlines, and a group with more than US$100 billion in assets — has scored a handful of high-profile deals this year, with real estate purchases including Radisson hotels and a stake in Hilton Worldwide.

The group is run by billionaire founding chairman Chen Feng whose global expansion plans have resulted in a spate of deals that have been instrumental in China’s M&A spending reaching record proportions this year.

On Wednesday, HNA Group’s Hongkong Island Construction Properties Company unit beat 19 other tenders, including those from the subsidiaries of China’s biggest property company China Vanke and Hong Kong’s largest developer Sun Hung Kai Properties, to clinch the land deal, a government statement said.

The site, spanning 11,300 square meters with a maximum gross floor area of 60,800 square meters, is located near a stretch of land northeast of the iconic Victoria harbor that used to be the old Kai Tak Airport’s runway.

Four surveyors interviewed by Reuters previously put the estimate between HK$4.25 billion to HK$4.58 billion (US$550 million to US$590 million).

Hong Kong’s real estate is among the most expensive in the world. Government data released on Monday showed home prices rising for six consecutive months to hit the highest level in nearly a year.