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The Chinese Billionaire Whose HNA Group Took Major Stakes in Hilton and Deutsche Bank Has Died

July 4, 2018, 9:45 AM UTC

The billionaire co-founder and chairman of China’s HNA Group died Tuesday in an accident while on a business trip in Provence in southern France, the company said today.

Wang Jian was 57. Local French media reported that a Chinese tourist the same age as Wang died while trying to take a photo on some steps near a church.

HNA Group has its origins in the regional Hainan Airlines in 1990 but had grown to become an international conglomerate. HNA had been aggressively expanding via takeovers in the past three years, acquiring stakes in Swissport, Gategroup, Deutsche Bank (DB) and Hilton International (HLT) in a buying spree that led U.S. lawmakers to call for a probe into the ownership of HNA.

But amid swelling debt and increasing attention from regulatory bodies, HNA began to unload its investments, divesting $14 billion in assets this year and reducing its stake in Deutsche to 7.6%.

HNA Group issued the following statement: “HNA Group extends deepest condolences to Mr. Wang’s family and many friends. Together, 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.”