HNA chairman Wang Jian died falling off wall in France

Wang Jian was chairman of the HNA Group which amassed $230 billion in assets across its aviation tourism and finance businessesMore

The 57-year-old businessman was considered a driving force of the group that is worth more than $203 billion in assets.

HNA Group, headquartered in Haikou, Hainan, was founded in 2000.

In a mark of respect, the official website suddenly became black and white, a sign of mourning in the world's second-largest economy.

The statement said the company extends its deepest condolences to Mr. Wang's family and friends.

In April, HNA disclosed plans to sell at least some of its more than $6.5 billion stake in hotel operator Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., according to a US regulatory filing.

The owner and co-founder of giant China's HNA group died today by falling from a high parapet in southern France, while he was on a tour. "He had been under great pressure recently".

However, the company's expansion was derailed by the Chinese government's decision to curb overseas investment by private conglomerates on order to cut financial risks.

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HNA appeared in danger of slipping into that category.

HNA is best known as the owner of Hainan Airlines Co and for holding stakes in Deutsche Bank AG and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. HNA's latest annual report showed the group had more than $90 billion in debt. But during the past few years, the company has been trying to level a debt mountain, which could be at least $90 billion as it battles to rebalance the books.

However, the company's ownership structure has always been complex and murky. "The removal of senior management will likely be a condition of any explicit or implicit bailout".

Wang was instrumental during HNA's era of empire-building and its subsequent dismantlement.

He 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. HNA's financial struggles began to emerge in the middle of a year ago, when its interim report showed the conglomerate paid the highest interest expense among non-financial companies in Asia. Currently, the total assets of the conglomerate is estimated at 600 billion yuan (88,55 billion), and the number of employees totals 180 thousand people.

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. Wang fell from the wall in Bonnieux whilst having his picture taken.

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