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Exclusive-China's Fosun explores sale of Atlantis Sanya luxury resort, sources say

A company logo of Fosun International is seen during the annual general meeting of the Chinese conglomerate in Hong Kon

By Julie Zhu and Kane Wu

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Fosun International is looking to sell all or part of its luxury resort Atlantis in southern China as part of its efforts to reduce debt, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

Located on Hainan island, known as China's Hawaii, in the seaside city of Sanya, the integrated resort spans an area equivalent to 66 soccer pitches. It boasts a hotel with more than 1,300 guest rooms - some with views of underwater marine life - as well as a water park, an aquarium and a shopping mall.

Fosun, known for once being one of China's most acquisition-hungry conglomerates, has sent information to prospective buyers and advisers and has been in informal discussions with them in recent months, said two of the people.


A potential deal value for Atlantis Sanya could not be immediately learned. Fosun said in 2018 it had invested 11 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in the resort.

The sources declined to be identified as the discussions were confidential. Fosun and its Hong Kong-listed unit Fosun Tourism Group, which owns the resort, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A sale would be further evidence that the conglomerate, which had some $30 billion in debt as of last June, is willing to roll back its presence in the tourism sector. Fosun Tourism's other main asset is Club Med and sources have said that the conglomerate is exploring the sale of a minority stake in the luxury resort chain.

According to two of the sources, Fosun has targeted mainly Chinese state-backed firms and deep-pocketed investors from the Middle East as potential buyers for Atlantis Sanya.

It is open to selling the whole business or the luxury hotel alone, said one of them.

Fosun Tourism, which has a market value of about HK$5.2 billion ($665 million), accounts for 9% of Fosun International's overall revenue. The conglomerate's other businesses span healthcare, financial services and property.

Fosun Tourism shares were down 5% in Hong Kong afternoon trade, underperforming the benchmark Hang Seng index which lost ground after Beijing did not unveil large stimulus plans at the beginning of China's week-long parliament session. Shares in Fosun International were 3% lower, in line with the Hang Seng.

Fosun has also been selling some other assets. It said in January it planned to sell a 5.6% stake in Portuguese lender Banco Comercial Portugues for 235 million euros ($255 million) to boost its working capital.

According to Fosun International's 2023 interim report, medium-to-long-term debt accounts for roughly half of its debt and it has a debt-to-equity ratio of 52%.

S&P Global said in a report in May last year that Fosun could continue to rely on asset sales and domestic banking support to reduce its debt burden.

Atlantis Sanya, like many resorts, was hard hit during the pandemic years but business has since improved.

The resort, which was inspired by the Atlantis, The Palm resort in Dubai, attracted about 3.2 million visitors in the first half of 2023 and had a room occupancy rate of 86%.

Revenue jumped 82% from a year earlier to 887 million yuan during the period and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) more than doubled to 460 million yuan.

($1 = 7.1993 Chinese yuan)

($1 = 7.8252 Hong Kong dollars)

($1 = 0.9217 euros)

(Reporting by Julie Zhu and Kane Wu; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)