Chinese tycoon Wang dies in fall from wall while on France trip

Chinese tycoon Wang dies in fall from wall while on France trip

HNA, one of China's most acquisitive conglomerates which has been selling assets to slash debt, said that Wang, 57, suffered a fall in Provence and received medical treatment but did not recover.

The co-founder and chairman of giant Chinese conglomerate, HNA Group, has died in a fall in southern France, his company has confirmed.

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 company, which once symbolized China's insatiable appetite for global assets, has since reversed course by selling more than US$14 billion of buildings and shares this year, including its multibillion-dollar stake in Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.

French police said Mr Wang fell some 15m off a wall, and they were not treating his death as suspicious.

"Wang's passing will mark the end of an era of aggressive expansion by HNA", Corrine Png, chief executive at the Singapore-based research firm Crucial Perspective, told the Bloomberg financial news agency.

"Deleveraging pressures on HNA continue to be enormous, and all such plans will probably now be revisited as the management team reconstitutes itself", he said. In November, HNA sold China's most expensive short-term dollar bond, and a month later China Citic Bank Corp. said a unit of the group had repayment difficulties.

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In this February 6, 2017, photo, a Chinese national flag flutters against the HNA Group office building in Beijing. A deal in which HNA would purchase an Australian logistics company for $207m fell through this week over "liquidity problems" at HNA.

Social media posts about Wang's death appeared to have been censored on China's tightly controlled internet soon after the news was announced by the group.

"It's really shocking news to us", said an employee who works in finance at HNA, declining to give his name.

"HNA Wang Jian died" briefly ranked 11th on the Twitter-like Weibo's hot topics page, but was quickly gone from the top 50.

Wang began his career in civil aviation planning in 1983.

"Everyone in the office is talking about it, but we don't know what impact it will have on the company's direction".

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