HNA Group has announced it will sell its Swiss catering and services subsidiary Gategroup through an initial public offering (IPO) at the Swiss stock exchange.

The Chinese conglomerate is also reportedly planning to lay off as many as 100,000 staff, a quarter of its workforce, Risk Event-Driven and Distressed Intelligence (REDD) has reported, although this has not been confirmed by HNA Group.

Both moves are part of the conglomerate's drive to improve its liquidity as it overstretched its finances with a USD50 billion acquisition spree over the past two years.

The Gategroup listing is expected to raise CHF350 million (USD370.5 million), the Neue Zürcher Zeitung has reported. HNA Group is selling up to 65% of the Swiss company's stock and will retain only three out of nine seats on the company's board of directors, thus fully relinquishing its control of the unit. Until the acquisition by HNA Group in 2016, Gategroup had been listed on the Swiss stock exchange.

HNA Group is also looking at listing its second Swiss subsidiary, ground handling company Swissport, the Financial Times has reported.

While HNA Group does not disclose its financials publicly, in January the conglomerate's chairman Chen Feng admitted that it is facing a liquidity crisis. In November 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported the conglomerate has amassed a total of USD100 billion in debt.

On March 1, Reuters has revealed that HNA's outstanding balance with China National Aviation Fuel Group (CNAF), a state-owned near-monopolistic fuel supplier in China, has reached CNY3 billion (USD474.4 million). The debt is mostly borne by Hainan Airlines Holding Co., an HNA Group unit which runs Hainan Airlines and a dozen other airlines in China.

One of the studied ways of settling the debt with CNAF is reported to be an asset swap which would see the shares in Haikou airport, now owned by HNA Group, transferred to the supplier.

For the time being, CNAF continues to supply fuel to HNA Group airlines despite the debts, as ceasing to do so would create a major disturbance of the Chinese aviation market. However, South China Bluesky Aviation Oil Co., a subsidiary of CNAF, has demanded that the debt is resolved by March 16, Yicai Global has reported.

Since the beginning of the year, a number of HNA Group units suspended trading on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, including Hainan Airlines and Bohai Capital, parent of lessor Avolon.

In February, Tianjin Airlines (GS, Tianjin), another HNA Group subsidiary, secured a CNY400 million injection from a Tianjin government entity and existing shareholder, the Tianjin Bonded Area Investment Co., while HNA Group itself has secured a CNY20 billion credit facility from the state-backed CITIC Bank.

The conglomerate has also been trying to offload some of its real estate holdings, including an office tower in Sydney and two land plots in Hongkong.

HNA Group's notoriously complicated holdings' structure involves stakes in Avolon, Gategroup, Servair, SR Technics and CIT Aerospace, Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras, TAP Portugal, Virgin Australia, Comair (South Africa), Frankfurt Hahn and Rio de Janeiro Int'l airports, Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Swiss travel retailer Dufry, and Deutsche Bank, as well as many Chinese carriers, along with multiple other travel, property, logistics and financial firms. Bloomberg has reported that in total there may be as many as 518 companies related by ownership to the conglomerate.