China’s HNA Group Chairman Wang dies after fall in France

Wang Jian was chairman of the HNA Group which amassed $230 billion in assets across its aviation tourism and finance businessesMore

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.

Wang Jian, the chairman and co-founder of high-profile Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, has died after a serious injury caused by a fall, the company said Wednesday.

HNA said that Wang, 57, suffered a fall in Provence, southern France, and received medical treatment but did not recover.

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

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But amid swelling debt and increasing attention from regulatory bodies, HNA began to unload its investments, divesting $14 billion in assets this year and reducing its stake in Deutsche to 7.6%. Subscribe to the Standard Group SMS service by texting "NEWS" to 22840.

The police are not taking the death scene of Mr. Wang as suspicious and a local police chief, Hubert Meriaux, said that Mr. Wang was willing to be framed in a shot by his family when he fell.

"He stood on the edge of a sharp drop to get his family to take a picture of him and fell", Meriaux told Reuters. They added that their investigation so far suggested his death was an accident. Now, experts say, after the death of Wang Jian, one should expect large sales of foreign objects.

Wang owned about 15 per cent of the Chinese group, making him one of the group's biggest shareholders, Bloomberg reported. HNA's other co-chairman, Chen Feng, and the group's top-ranking official, also holds a 15 percent stake.

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The conglomerate this week pulled out of a $400 million deal to buy Automotive Holdings Group's refrigerated logistics business after eight months of negotiations.

But HNA came under pressure a year ago as Beijing cracked down on the risky debt-fuelled financing that enabled its expansion.

Born in Tianjin, North China, he graduated from the Civil Aviation University of China, which was formerly the Civil Aviation Institute, with a bachelor's degree in airline management before going on to obtain an MBA from the Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands.

Speaking through their own interpreter, Mr Wang's travelling companions told police it had been an accident.

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Reportedly worth US$7 billion, he was the driving force behind the rapid global expansion of the sprawling HNA Group, which he helped launch in 1993.

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