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Scaramucci's SkyBridge sells itself, investment team to stay put

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Matthew Miller

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Matthew Miller

BOSTON/BEIJING (Reuters) - The hedge fund investment firm founded by Anthony Scaramucci said it will sell a majority of itself to RON Transatlantic EG and an arm of Chinese aviation and tourism conglomerate HNA Group, four days after Scaramucci took a position in President-elect Donald Trump's administration.

SkyBridge Capital announced the deal on Tuesday. Terms of the sale, which is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017, were not disclosed.

For HNA Group, which announced about $20 billion of deals in 2016 alone, the stake purchase through its financial arm HNA Capital represents the latest move into financial asset management. Last week, HNA said it would spend $460 million to purchase New Zealand asset finance firm UDC.

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"Our investment in SkyBridge is an important step in HNA Capital's strategy to build a global asset management business," Guang Yang, CEO for HNA Capital U.S., said in a statement.

The deal comes as HNA Group is rapidly expanding in the United States, where authorities have stepped up scrutiny of Chinese state-backed deals.

HNA Group, best known as the owner of Hainan Airlines Co, announced in October that it will fork out $6.5 billion to purchase a 26 percent stake in hotel chain Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.

HNA's Avolon Holdings also agreed that month to buy CIT Group's aircraft leasing assets worth $10 billion.

The $12 billion SkyBridge's investment management team, lead by Ray Nolte, will continue to run the company, offering clients access to hedge funds such as Daniel Loeb's Third Point, Michael Vranos' Ellington Management Group and Steven Tananbaum's GoldenTree Asset Management LP.

Scaramucci, who founded SkyBridge in 2005 and joined forces with Nolte five years later when he bought Citigroup Alternative Investments Hedge Fund Management Group, will no longer be affiliated with the firm or its well-known industry conference, the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference.

Known on Wall Street as the "Mooch", Scaramucci announced on Friday that he would be joining the White House staff as an adviser and public liaison to government agencies and businesses. Word spread among bankers in mid-December that he had put the company up for sale as he was setting his sights on a position in Washington.

HNA Capital (U.S.), a unit of HNA Capital, and RON Transatlantic already owned a minority stake in SkyBridge. Between the two, the new majority owners are involved in beer brewing, tourism, logistics and financial services.

"Now, together with the world-class resources and networks of HNA and Transatlantic, we feel the 'sky' is the limit for how far we can take SkyBridge," George Hornig, Chief Executive of RON Transatlantic Financial Holdings, said in the statement.

The SkyBridge Alternatives Conference, called SALT, grew into one of the industry's biggest hedge fund conferences as Scaramucci got former U.S. presidents, generals and money managers, along with thousands of others to join him for days of lectures and sunning by the pool in Las Vegas.

The conference will be spun off as a standalone entity, the company said.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston and Matthew Miller in Beijing; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Alan Crosby and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

 
 
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