Hainan Airlines (HU, Haikou) says it has chosen Liaoning Fangda Group as its proposed strategic equity partner but that only an interim agreement between the group and the airline's administrator has been reached.

The insolvent HNA Group subsidiary said in a stock market filing that if the Beijing-based diversified distributor of carbon, chemical, pharmaceutical, and steel products does finalise its investment, it will become the airline's controlling shareholder. At present, the main holders of Hainan Airlines’ shares are Grand China Air with 24.3%, Haikou Meilan Airport with 5.13%, HNA Group with 3.53%, Changjiang Leasing with 3.53%, and China Securities Finance Corporation Limited with 2.75% among others. The carrier's remaining shares are held in small amounts by other Chinese citizens.

For its part, Liaoning Fangda Group is owned by 48-year-old billionaire Fang Wei. As previously reported, the company set up the Hainan Large Aviation Development Co Ltd with a war chest of CNY30 billion yuan (USD4.63 billion) in June with four of its subsidiary companies.

Other contenders for HNA Group's aviation assets have also included Juneyao Airlines, Fosun Group's Yuyuan Co Ltd, JD.com, and Ping An of China.

Meanwhile, HNA Infrastructure Investment Group Co Ltd says it has chosen the Hainan Provincial Government's wholly-owned Hainan Development Holdings Co Ltd to become its strategic investor and possibly its controlling shareholder.