Victoria’s giant Aitken Hill Conference centre is put into Receivers hands after owner collapses

Victoria’s giant Aitken Hill Conference centre is put into Receivers hands after owner collapses

The collapse of giant Chinese conglomerate HNA Group hit its Australian investments as receivers took control of Aitken Hill Conference Centre near Melbourne Airport earlier this month.

China’s HNA Group was a massive conglomerate with broad interests; from property to logistics; from aviation to financial services, the company had a finger in every pie.  In the 20-odd years since its inception, the group – built on the foundations of flagship unit Hainan Airlines – grew rapidly in China and beyond in a debt-fuelled spending spree.

HNA made waves in 2016 and 2017 when it spent more than $60 billion on acquisitions globally, spanning aviation, real estate, financial services, tourism and logistics. The group’s spree including stakes in Deutsche Bank AG, Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc and Virgin Australia.

In late-2019, the group announced a reorganisation, dividing its businesses into airlines, aviation leasing and airports, with the rest being lumped under its “non-aviation asset management” unit.

But its focus on aviation and tourism backfired in the wake of the Corona-19 outbreak ,with the government of Hainan province, where HNA is based, taking control of the group’s management in early 2020.

It is currently facing around $250 billion in creditor claims. On 29 January the juggernaut came to a grinding halt: the group disclosed that it received formal notice that so far unnamed creditors had filed for its bankruptcy and reorganisation at the Hainan High People’s Court ”on grounds that we cannot pay off due debts”, HNA Group stated.

Martin Ford and Daniel Walley of PwC Australia were appointed as receivers and managers by an overseas lender of HNA subsidiary Zhong Ao Zhi Hong Investment Holding, which paid almost $100 million in 2016 for the 69-hectare property at 20 Dunhelen Lane in Craigieburn.

The site features a 124-room hotel and extensive parkland, approximately 45ha of which has the potential for residential development.

It was constructed in the late 1980s and features 6000sq m of prime conference and events spaces, as well as sporting, leisure and hospitality facilities, and parking for 150 vehicles.

HNA purchased the estate with the immediate potential to add a seven-hectare retirement village and a 630-lot residential estate on undeveloped portions of the site.

PwC said a sale process for the property and business would “commence shortly” following the completion of their assessment.

“Our assessment will include working closely and constructively with Aitken Hill management so that we can make informed decisions about the site’s future,” said Andrew Seeckts, director of PwC.

Once the receivers assessment is complete, the sale of the business and property will begin, with operations not set to begin until after a sale is complete.

“The hospitality and tourism sector has obviously been heavily impacted by COVID-19, and the site itself has not been operational for some time,” added Seeckts.

Heres another you might like in the same field


  • HNA Group’s years of debt-fuelled acquisitions end in shambles

By Alfred Chua

  • Receivers to sell centre after Chinese conglomerate collapses

By Larry Schlesinger

  • Receivers appointed to Aitken Hill

By Hannah Page


  • Receivers Appointed to HNA’s Aitken Hill Conference Centre

By Ted Tabet