Published: Чт, Июля 05, 2018
Business | By Kate Woods

Chinese tycoon dies in freak fall in France

Chinese tycoon dies in freak fall in France

HNA Group Co., the once-acquisitive Chinese conglomerate that's been selling billions of dollars in assets this year amid soaring borrowing costs, said that Co-Chairman Wang Jian died after an accident in Provence, France.

French media reported that a 57-year-old Chinese tourist had died after falling down the stairs of a church in the village of Bonnieux on Tuesday while trying to take a photograph. "He fell over the top and dropped 10 metres".

The statement said the company extends its deepest condolences to Mr. Wang's family and friends.

Wang, who held a stake of just under 15 per cent in the group, was in charge of its strategy and ran day-to-day operations, sources familiar with the matter have said, while his fellow chairman Chen was often the public face of the conglomerate. The conglomerate now has more than 10 airlines among its affiliated companies.

"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.

Chinese business and finance magazine Caixin, cited "people close to Wang" as saying he fell from a high place near Avignon. Wang's death appeared to be accidental lieutenant-colonel Hubert Meriaux at the Vaucluse gendarmerie told Reuters.

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Wang was second only to Co-Chairman Chen Feng within HNA's hierarchy, and owned about 15 per cent of the conglomerate, making him one of the group's biggest shareholders, according to HNA's last update of its ownership structure.

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 Maastricht School of Management in 1995, according to HNA.

Following its now-infamous acquisition spree, the group's financial struggles began to emerge in the middle of past year, when the Chinese government began scrutinizing high-profile acquirers such as HNA, Dalian Wanda Group Co. and Anbang Insurance Group Co. A financial report in April revealed that HNA's debts have reached $94 billion.

The firm's US$230 billion in assets includes a diverse global empire of businesses operating in aviation, tourism, and finance.

Wang was one of the driving forces behind the massive expansion of HNA Group.

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