Economy

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

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

HNA said Wang, whose personal fortune is estimated at $US1.7 billion by Forbes magazine, had been visiting Bonnieux during a business trip to France.

"He stood on the edge of a sharp drop to get his family to take a picture of him and fell", they said.

After years of empire-building, the company that once symbolized China's insatiable appetite for global assets has reversed course, selling more than $14 billion of buildings and shares, including its multibillion-dollar stake in Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. Hainan then grew into a major conglomerate with interests in not only aviation but also real estate, financial services, tourism, and logistics.

HNA Group, in which Wang held a 15 percent stake, has confirmed the death of its chairman and switched its official website to monochrome in his honor.

"Wang's passing will mark the end of an era of aggressive expansion by HNA", said Corrine Png, chief executive officer at Crucial Perspective Pte., a Singapore-based research firm focused on transportation. In November, HNA sold China's most expensive short-term dollar bond, and a month later China Citic Bank Corp. said a unit of the group had repayment difficulties.

HNA is the owner of Hainan Airlines, China's fourth-largest airline and the largest private airline in China.

In this February 6, 2017, photo, a Chinese national flag flutters against the HNA Group office building in Beijing. Earlier this week, HNA also gave up on the idea of buying the refrigerated trucking arm of Australia's Automotive Holdings Group due to reported cash flow problems.

Jian, who was 57 years old, died in an accident, the company said. It didn't provide further details about Mr Wang's sudden death.

Wang was in charge of HNA's strategy and ran day-to-day operations, sources familiar with the matter have said, while his fellow chairman and co-founder Chen Feng was often the public face of the group. "HNA Wang Jian died" briefly ranked 11th on Twitter-like Weibo's hot topics page, but was quickly gone from the top 50.

Chinese business and finance magazine Caixin, cited "people close to Wang" as saying he fell from a high place near Avignon.

"Everyone in the office is talking about it, but we don't know what impact it will have on the company's direction".

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.



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