China's HNA Group co-chairman Wang Jian dies after fall in France

A HNA Group logo is seen on the building of HNA Plaza in Beijing

China business SHOCK: China's HNA co-chairman Wang Jian dies after fall in France

Wang Jian, the chairman and co-founder of giant Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, has died in an accident in southern France.

Rescue services in the region were unable to revive him.

Shares of HNA's Hong Kong-listed subsidiaries slumped Wednesday after HNA published a statement on Wang's death, which occurred Tuesday.

It has acquired big stakes in major companies like Hilton Hotels and Deutsche Bank and employs more than 400,000 people worldwide.

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

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BEIJING-The co-chairman of HNA Group, a conglomerate that operates China's fourth-largest airline and finance, logistics and other businesses around the world, died in an accident while on a business trip in France, the company said Wednesday.

At the end of 2017, the company reported that its debt was 638 billion yuan (81.5 billion euros), up 36 percent from 2016.

Bonnieux is a medieval village in the Provence area of the south of France, a favored destination for the rich and famous over the peak summer holiday period.

Wang lost his balance as he attempted to climb onto a retaining wall next to a rock at the highest point in Bonnieux, a scenic village, said Lieutenant-Colonel Hubert Meriaux, a police officer in nearby Avignon.

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".

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Who can take the most pain? The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index also finished down 1.0 per cent, with while Tokyo's Nikkei was off 0.3 per cent.

According to a pledge signed by the 12 stakeholders, Wang's shares will now be split between the NY and Hainan branches of the Hainan Cihang Charity Foundation, which own the majority stake in the HNA Group.

Mr. Wang started his career as an aviation official and co-founded HNA with Mr. Chen more than two decades ago.

To many on China's internet, his death seems to have triggered curiosity.

The success of HNA can be attributed to the savviness of Mr Wang and Mr Chen but the future of this company might still, in part, depend on the government's policies. HNA's financial struggles began to emerge in the middle of previous year, when its interim report showed the conglomerate paid the highest interest expense among non-financial companies in Asia. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of, its sponsors or advertisers.

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