China's HNA Group chairman Wang Jian dies after fall in France

Share

The co-founder and chairman of giant Chinese conglomerate, HNA Group, has died in a fall in southern France, his company has confirmed.

The 57-year old, credited with driving a massive expansion overseas at the investment company he co-chaired HNA Group, fell nearly 10 metres (32 feet) after climbing onto a parapet in Bonnieux, a medieval village in the Provence area.

In honor of its ill-fated chairman the HNA Group switched its official website to monochrome and posted a statement mourning Wang's death.

"If HNA simply can not meet its financial obligations, we expect regulators to broker a debt restructuring", Michael Hirson, the Asia director of the consultancy Eurasia Group, said back in February.

HNA has recently been selling off its holdings in hotel companies including Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., Park Hotels & Resorts and Spain's NH Hotels.

He said Mr Wang fell some 15m (50ft).

The 57-year-old businessman was seen as a driving force behind the transformation of the local Hainan Airlines into a huge conglomerate with US$230 billion in assets. Police said they were not treating his death as suspicious.

Schumer rallies opposition to Trump anti-abortion court pick
Vice-president Mike Pence, an outspoken evangelical Christian, has called for Roe to be relegated to "the ash heap of history ". During the 2016 campaign, he predicted the law would be overturned during his presidency.

In April, HNA disclosed plans to sell at least some of its more than $6.5 billion stake in hotel operator Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., according to a US regulatory filing.

Wang had a degree in airline management from the Civil Aviation University of China and an MBA from the Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands. "But the long-term impact on the group will be limited".

Wang, who was on a business trip, had a fall from which he couldn't recover, HNA said in a statement on its website.

The collapsed deal came after ANZ Bank in January dropped plans to sell its UDC Finance unit to HNA for NZ$660 million as New Zealand blocked the deal over concerns about the Chinese conglomerate's ownership structure. HNA's latest annual report showed the group had more than $90 billion in debt.

HNA started as a small provincial airline servicing China's Hainan Province but has expanded quickly in recent years under the leadership of Wang and co-founder Chen Feng. Hainan then grew into a major conglomerate with interests in not only aviation but also real estate, financial services, tourism, and logistics.

However, HNA started to sell large chunks of its global interests in the wake of a crackdown by Chinese authorities on debt-fuelled financing.

Share