July 4, 2018: In an unfortunate incident, Wang Jian, the co-founder and chairman of Chinese aviation-to-finance conglomerate HNA Group, died following an accident while on a business trip to France.
According to reports, Wang, 57, fell off a wall in the village of Bonnieux as he was having his picture taken. The death isn’t being viewed as suspicious reportedly. Jian was a former civil aviation official and formed part of a small group that founded Hainan Airlines in the early 1990s. He held 15 percent of the group’s shares, according to public filings.
HNA Group’s board and management team, led by co-founder and chairman Chen Feng and CEO Adam Tan, issued a statement saying, “HNA Group extends deepest condolences to Mr. Wang's family and many friends. 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, as well as for the many others whose lives he touched through his work and philanthropy.”
Wang’s leadership had helped HNA turn into one of the world's biggest companies, with assets in aviation, tourism and finance. It is a part owner of Grand China Air, and owns 25 percent of Hilton Worldwide.
The once-acquisitive Chinese conglomerate, however, has been selling billions of dollars in assets this year amid soaring domestic debt built up during the rapid expansion. The group, however, has got support from China’s top leaders, which provided much-needed relief for a company that couldn’t generate enough profits last year to pay interest expenses.