HNA group: China conglomerate boss Wang Jian dies in Provence

Andrew Cummings
July 5, 2018

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

A police source in France said Wang had died after a 10 metre fall off a wall while trying to take photographs in the village of Bonnieux, near Avignon. The company, which once symbolized China's insatiable appetite for global assets, has since reversed course by selling more than US$14 billion of buildings and shares this year, including its multibillion-dollar stake in Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.

In a separate statement written in English, the company's board and management team, led by co-founder Chen Feng and chief executive Adam Tan, said: "HNA Group extends deepest condolences to Mr Wang's family and many friends".

The company did not give the circumstances of Wang's death or provide an exact location. In recent months, the Group has been forced to get rid of its acquisitions as it parted with its 25 per cent stake in Spain's NH Hotel Group for US$726 million and sold an office tower in Minneapolis, Minnesota for US$320 million. The death isn't being viewed as suspicious, the officer said.

In a letter internally distributed at HNA earlier this year, Wang blamed the company's hardships on "major conspiracy" against the ruling Communist Party and Chinese President, Xi Jinping, by foreign and domestic "reactionary forces", Reuters said.

Mr Wang was reported to be among a group of tourists who were visiting Bonnieux, in the Vaucluse area of Provence.

Wang obtained an undergraduate degree in Aviation Management from Civil Aviation University of China in 1983, and a master's degree in business administration from Holland Maastricht School of Management in 1995, according to HNA.

Last year, as Beijing started to curb financial risks posed by such debt-ridden conglomerates, HNA had to embark on a selling spree to pay down its debt.

He was one of two chairmen of HNA Group, according to the company's website. It also has finance, logistics and technology businesses.

"Together, we mourn the loss of an exceptionally gifted leader and role model, whose vision and values will continue to be a beacon for all who had the good fortune to know him", the firm said.

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