China's HNA Group files lawsuit against Spain's NH Hotels

Spain's NH Hotels has been hit with a lawsuit from its largest shareholder, China's HNA Group, against a motion to drive out HNA-appointed board members. 

The move comes just six months after the two companies formed a JV to a joint office and Chinese brand name, Nuo Han. Within a month, HNA Group subsidiary HNA Tourism Group announced plans to acquire Carlson Hotels and its brands, which include Radisson Blu and Country Inns & Suites. Some shareholders saw the move as a conflict of interest since HNA's Spanish subsidiary Tangla Spain owns 29.5 percent of the NH hotel group, and Carlson competes with NH in European markets such as Germany and Belgium. At the time, HNA said at the time it had been "disenfranchised" by the decision and expected the new board to act in the interest of all shareholders.

By late June, shareholders in Spain's NH Hotel Group voted to oust one of its co-chairman and three other board members appointed by HNA Group. Almost 60 percent of NH's shareholders had backed the motion, which would replace co-chairman Charles Mobus, a U.S.-based banker, with Paul Daniel Johnson, and three Chinese board members with Spaniards.

And now a lawsuit is looking to prevent the ouster. In a statement to Spain's market regulator, NH said that Tangla Spain had filed the lawsuit with a Madrid court and demanded the four decisions be reversed. The lawsuit also reaffirms the shareholders belief that HNA has a conflict of interest in acquiring Carlson, NH said.