Wang Jian, co-chairman of once-acquisitive HNA Group, dies in accident in France

Signage for HNA Group Co. is displayed atop the company's building in Beijing, China, on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. Photographer: Giulia Marchi/Bloomberg

HNA Group Co., the once-acquisitive Chinese conglomerate that’s been selling billions of dollars in assets this year, said that Co-Chairman Wang Jian died after an accident on Tuesday in Provence, France. He was 57.

Wang, who was on a business trip, had a fall from which he couldn’t recover, HNA said in a statement on its website, which didn’t provide further details. HNA representatives declined to comment beyond public statements.

Wang’s sudden death comes at a time that the group, one of China’s most indebted companies, is seeking to recover from soaring borrowing costs after years of debt-fueled expansion. HNA has sold more than $14 billion in assets this year, including its multibillion-dollar stake in Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.

Wang owned about 15 percent of the Chinese conglomerate, making him one of the group’s biggest shareholders, according to HNA’s last update of its ownership structure. HNA’s other co-chairman, Chen Feng, also holds a 15 percent stake.

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

“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,” HNA said in a Business Wire statement.

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Bloomberg

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In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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