HNA Group, one of China’s largest non-state owned conglomerates and the parent of Hainan Airlines Co., 600221.SH +0.25% has agreed to take a 48% stake in French airline Aigle Azur, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The person said the companies would announce the deal either Monday or Tuesday. Another person familiar with the transaction said that HNA will be paying $40 million for the stake.

French newspaper La Tribune reported the deal Monday, saying that businessman Arezki Idjerouidene, who currently owns Aigle Azur, would retain control of the company after the stake sale.

In the last two years HNA Group has been actively looking for international investment opportunities. Late last year, it together with a small Hong Kong-based private-equity firm paid $1.05 billion for marine container-leasing company GE SeaCo, which was bought from General Electric Co. GE -1.80% It has also invested in property in New York, and has bid to invest in overseas hotel chains and airports.

HNA has expanded rapidly beyond its aviation roots in recent years, evolving into one of China’s largest conglomerates. While focusing on logistics, transportation and tourism, the company has also branched out into property, supermarkets and financial services, with stakes in a bank, a brokerage firm and insurance companies. According to the government-backed All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, HNA Group was the seventh-largest private firm in China by revenue in 2011. China’s largest firms are typically state-owned.




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