Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Chairman of Giant Chinese Conglomerate Dies in Fall

Chairman of Giant Chinese Conglomerate Dies in Fall

Chinese conglomerate HNA group on Wednesday said that Wang Jian, the firm's chairman and co-founder, died during a business trip in the south of France. Among other businesses, the conglomerate owns Hainan Airlines, golf courses and up to 25% in Hilton hotel group and Deutsche Bank shares worth around $40 billion.

In November, HNA sold China's most expensive short-term dollar bond, and a month later China Citic Bank said a unit of the group had repayment difficulties. It called Wang "an exceptionally gifted leader and role model".

He said Mr Wang fell some 15m (50ft).

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A financial report in April revealed, however, that HNA's debts have reached $94 billion.

HNA Group's logistics service unit CWT International Ltd dropped 5.5 percent to the lowest since April a year ago, Hong Kong International Construction Investment Management Group slid 3.7 percent, and HNA Technology was down 2.4 percent. Eventually, HNA expects the foundations to own 100 per cent of the group, the company said at the time. Also in attendance were executives at Glencore Plc, which hours later announced the $775 million sale of a majority stake in its oil storage and logistics business to HNA.

HNA gave no further details of the circumstances surrounding Wang's death, but a source told Reuters he died after a 10-metre fall from a wall. Last year, as Beijing started to curb financial risks posed by such debt-ridden conglomerates, HNA had to embark on a selling spree to pay down its debt.

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Wang, a former CEO of HNA, built his career in the aviation industry, according to his official biography. Besides this, the company has more than 400,000 people worldwide as their employes.

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. In 1990, he helped establish Hainan Provincial Airlines Co. and was one of the founders of the group.

HNA's individual shareholders have promised to give their stakes to the NY charity fund in case of leaving the company or death, according to the document. Last year, regulators in New Zealand blocked HNA from purchasing a vehicle loan company out of concern over the company's financial stability.

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