Top Chinese executive dies after falling from wall in France

  • Top Chinese executive dies after falling from wall in France

Top Chinese executive dies after falling from wall in France

Chinese tycoon Wang Jian, whose sprawling conglomerate HNA Group owns a host of foreign assets, has died after a falling off a wall while sightseeing in southern France, police and his company said Wednesday. "He fell over the top and dropped 10 metres".

"HNA Group extends deepest condolences to Mr Wang's family and many friends", HNA's board and management team said in a statement.

Wang Jian, Co-Chairman of HNA Group attends a meeting marking the 20th anniversary of company's founding in Haikou, Hainan province, China, April 28, 2013.

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.

Launched in 1993 on the southern island of Hainan, HNA expanded into finance, hotels, logistics and other businesses in a multibillion-dollar global acquisition spree.

HNA, the owner of Hainan Airlines, once symbolised the appetite of Chinese companies for assets outside of China.

Wang's death couldn't have come at a worse time, said Brock Silvers, founder and managing director of Kaiyuan Capital, a Shanghai-based investment advisory firm.

Earlier this week, HNA was also forced to terminate a $400 million deal with Australia's Automative Holdings Group for their refrigerated logistics and trucking arm, with AHG citing HNAs cashflow options as the cause of the breakdown.

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.

He was one of two chairmen of HNA Group, according to the company's website. HNA's latest annual report showed the group had more than $90 billion in debt.

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

Concerns about HNA's financial situation mounted in the ensuing months. In January, as the volume of news about HNA's liquidity issues peaked, it suspended six of its listed stocks from trading.

Under pressure to deleverage, HNA has been divesting assets, including real estate as well as stakes in Deutsche Bank and Hilton Worldwide Holdings. In June, HNA sold a bond in China after a rare five-month drought, signaling a crucial source of funding for the conglomerate may be opening up.