Hainan Airlines Co (600221.SS) (900945.SS), China's fourth-largest carrier, said on Thursday it plans to launch the country's first private equity fund that invests in the aircraft leasing industry.

Hainan Airlines will launch the fund with Tianjin Yanshan Investment Management Co and aims to raise 5 billion yuan ($747 million) and target an annualized investment return of at least 10 percent, the company said in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

"The investment would help improve the company's revenue structure, diversify our business and broaden our own options in aircraft leasing," Hainan Airlines said in the statement.

China's airlines have faced strong headwinds since 2008 as a slowing economy hit demand for air travel during the global financial crisis, with the industry's growth falling into the single digits in 2008 for the first time in five years.

In February, Hainan Airlines raised 3 billion yuan through a private placement of shares to pay back bank loans and supplement working capital. ($1=6.69 Yuan) (Reporting by Samuel Shen and Farah Master; Editing by Ken Wills) 

SOURCE: www.reuters.com
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