Chinese HNA Group chairman dies after 50 foot-fall in France

Chinese HNA Group chairman dies after 50 foot-fall in France

They added that their investigation so far suggested his death was an accident. It also has finance, logistics and technology businesses.

"Wang Jian's death will definitely bring short-term shocks to HNA's business development", said Liu Feng, director of the Hainan Normal University Free Trade Port Research Center. 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.

HNA responded to news of Mr Wang's death by saying: "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".

"It's really shocking news to us", said an employee who works in finance at HNA, declining to give his name.

Sources close to the company said Wang took a hands-on approach to running the company although Chen tended to be its public face.

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HNA Group co-founder Wang Jian was in the country on a business trip; he was having his photo taken while on a sightseeing jaunt in Bonnieux when the 57-year-old reportedly fell some 50 feet.

"Wang's passing will mark the end of an era", said Corrine Png, CEO at Crucial Perspective Pte., a Singapore-based research firm focused on transportation. Since 2015, HNA had been on a massive shopping spree, forking out around $40 billion on a 25 per cent stake in the Hilton hotel group, shares in Deutsche Bank, several golf courses and other foreign property. "It will also put HNA Group and related companies' restructuring plans back on the drawing board".

"HNA Group extends deepest condolences to Mr. Wang's family and many friends". In 1990, he helped establish Hainan Provincial Airlines Co. and was one of the founders of the group.

But HNA came under pressure past year as Beijing cracked down on the risky debt-fuelled financing that enabled its expansion. HNA's financial struggles began to emerge in the middle of past year, when its interim report showed the conglomerate paid the highest interest expense among non-financial companies in Asia.

However, the embattled group appeared to have won a reprieve of sorts recently, when at a meeting held by China's central bank, lenders were told to "support" HNA bonds, Bloomberg and the Financial Times reported last month.

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