China’s largest conglomerates, HNA’s chairman and co-founder, Wang Jian, met with a sudden tragedy while he was on a tour in France.
Wang reportedly fell from a wall in the village of Bonnieux in France’s Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. He climbed on the wall with four other people in an attempt to take a picture of the scenery behind him. However, the 57-year-old could not balance himself and fell from the ledge.
He reportedly dropped off a height between 12(39ft) and 15 (49ft) meters.
The police are not treating the business tycoon’s death as suspicious. “He stood on the edge of a sharp drop to get his family to take a picture of him and fell,” said a local police officer Hubert Meriaux.
Wang’s travel company also confirmed the accident as the cause of death.
The Chinese website of Hainan Airlines, one of HNA’s main businesses, grayed its website to mourn Wang’s death. “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,” the company said in a statement.
Fifteen percent stake of the HNA Group was owned by Wang and last year Bloomberg estimated his worth to be more than $5 billion. Wang’s death is a major blow for the company at a time when HNA is in a financial crisis trying to settle a debt of $90 billion.
Wang played an instrumental role in transforming the company from a regional, state-controlled company to a vast conglomerate, with his intelligence and overseas deal-making skills.
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters, Stringer