Chinese tycoon dies from fall in France

06 Juillet, 2018, 17:42 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Wang Jian of HNA Group

As reported by BBC, China's HNA Group co-founder and chairman Wang Jian has died from a fall in southern France. Wang is seen as the architect of HNA's high-flying acquisitions over the past few years, snapping up billions of dollars of global assets including stakes in Hilton Worldwide and Deutsche Bank.

"HNA Group extends deepest condolences to Mr Wang's family and many friends", HNA's board and management team said in a statement. It called Wang "an exceptionally gifted leader and role model". Wang Jian could not help on the wall and fell out the other side into the abyss.

According to HNA documents, Wang and Chen each held around 15% in HNA as the biggest individual shareholders.

"If HNA simply can not meet its financial obligations, we expect regulators to broker a debt restructuring", Michael Hirson, the Asia director of the consultancy Eurasia Group, said back in February.

The conglomerate this week pulled out of a $400 million deal to buy Automotive Holdings Group's refrigerated logistics business after eight months of negotiations.

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The New York Times has this quote from local police: "He wanted to have his picture taken by someone in his group", and after climbing onto a low wall "he fell backwards, 10 to 15 meters further below".

Last year, Guo Wengui, a high-profile exiled Chinese businessman who is famous for throwing incendiary - and largely unsubstantiated - allegations against Chinese officials, claimed that HNA has secret and illegal financial ties to top Chinese Communist Party officials. His attention to detail extended to choosing office furniture and installing a statue of Guan Yu, a legendary general during China's Three Kingdoms period, in one of HNA's offices in Hong Kong.

"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. Numerous companies also came under scrutiny for their opaque ownership structures.

Wang graduated from the Civil Aviation University of China with a degree in airline management and held an MBA from the Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands. It already has sold a more than $1 billion stake in an affiliated timeshare company, Hilton Grand Vacations Inc.

Following its now-infamous acquisition spree, the group's financial struggles began to emerge in the middle of a year ago, when the Chinese government began scrutinising high-profile acquirers such as HNA, Dalian Wanda Group and Anbang Insurance Group. 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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