The Chinese conglomerate that owns Hainan Airlines will acquire 10 golf courses for $137.5 million, as part of its effort to boost its portfolio overseas and secure a gateway into the North American golf tourism market.
The seller, Oki Golf, is based in Bellevue, Wash., and all of the properties are in the Seattle region. The sale includes The Golf Club at Redmond Ridge, The Golf Club at Newcastle, Washington National Golf Club, Trophy Lake Golf & Casting, Harbour Pointe Golf Club, The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie, The Plateau Club, and Indian Summer Golf & Country Club.
Scott Oki, a former Microsoft vice president, founded Oki Golf two years after leaving Microsoft. He bought his first course, The Golf Club at Echo Falls in Snohomish, Wash., in 1994. During the next ten years, he added eight more facilities in Washington state.
"While we have been approached several times regarding acquisition, this is the first time, we felt that the vision and opportunity being presented was a strong fit and a natural next step for the evolution of the Oki brand,” Oki said in a statement.
The buyer, HNA Holdings Group of Hong Kong, is based in Haikou, Hainan, China. It started as a local aviation transportation operator in 1993, and expanded into tourism, capital and logistics. It offers flights to and from several cities in China and the United States, including Seattle.
HNA Holdings already owns 13 golf facilities and 80 hotels. It owns 11 golf properties in China, including seven on Hainan Island, and two in the United States — Nicklaus Club Monterey in Monterey, California and Somers Pointe Golf Club in Somers, New York.
Xu Haohao, HNA Holding’s executive director, said in a statement that the company is positive about global golf tourism due to “the continuing growth in the number and spending of high-net-worth outbound tourists from the PRC”.
Nicklaus Design entered into a partnership with HNA in 2013 to redesign and rebrand HNA’s courses in China. That followed the rebranding of Nicklaus Club Monterey.
Oki Golf will continue to manage the courses for the next five years under a lease agreement. Oki will pay HNA an annual rent of $7.1 million.
Oki sold Echo Falls to an international investment group last year.
HNA owns Hainan Airlines, China’s fourth-largest carrier, which operates seven routes flying to five US cities, including from Beijing to Seattle. The flights could help guarantee the golf courses a certain number of visitors.