HONG KONG—Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co. mentioned its co-founder
will change into its sole chairman following the dying of its different chairman and founder
in a freak accident in France this week.
Mr. Chen, 65 years previous, will take over Mr. Wang’s duties overseeing the sprawling airline-to-hotels conglomerate, whereas Chief Executive
will proceed in his position, the Haikou-based firm mentioned in an announcement Friday.
Mr. Wang, a central determine in the firm, died Tuesday throughout a enterprise journey in France, HNA mentioned earlier. The 57-year-old had gone on a sightseeing tour to a cliff-side church in Bonnieux, a village in southeast France. Local police mentioned Mr. Wang fell to his dying from a wall he stood on to take a photograph.
On Friday, HNA mentioned the disposal of a 15% stake in the firm that Mr. Wang controls “will be addressed in due course, consistent with his pledge to donate them to charity.” The firm has charitable foundations primarily based in Haikou and New York that collectively personal about half of the group. Last summer season, the firm mentioned all of the group’s shareholders had pledged to donate their shares to the basis upon their resignation or dying.
Mr. Wang’s household and a few HNA executives together with Mr. Tan are at the moment in France, in accordance to
HNA’s head of worldwide company affairs. He mentioned that earlier than Mr. Wang went on the sightseeing journey, the chairman had been in Paris assembly with some of HNA’s portfolio firms in preparation for quarterly board conferences.
Mr. Hernandez, who was with Mr. Wang throughout some of the conferences over the previous week, mentioned he observed “nothing out of character” with the chairman earlier than the accident. “We talked about the board meetings. He was very engaged,” he mentioned. Mr. Wang was accompanied by two junior staffers from his workplace in addition to a neighborhood worker who speaks French, Mr. Hernandez mentioned.
Mr. Wang had been one of HNA’s prime choice makers and was deeply concerned in the working of the group and its technique. Over the previous 20 years, the former civil aviation official helped oversee the transformation of what was initially a small regional airline into a large conglomerate with stakes in a number of airways, resorts, monetary establishments and different property in China and overseas.
After amassing tens of billions of in debt throughout an aggressive overseas acquisition spree and drawing scrutiny from the Chinese government, HNA over the previous 12 months has been shedding abroad actual property and different property. Mr. Wang stored a comparatively low profile whereas Messrs. Chen and Tan had been seen as the public faces of HNA in recent times.
Mr. Hernandez, a former U.S. Commerce Department official who joined HNA a couple of months in the past, described Mr. Wang as a considerate particular person who was quieter than his counterpart however very tuned into the firm. He was “good at digesting information and wasn’t afraid of asking questions,” mentioned Mr. Hernandez.
Write to Stella Yifan Xie at [email protected]