The chairman and co-founder of Chinese conglomerate HNA Group has died following an accident during a business trip in France, the company confirmed on Wednesday.
Wang Jian, aged 57, suffered ‘severe injuries’ in a 15 metre- (49 foot-) fall in Provence in southern France on Tuesday, according to the police.
Mr Wang, who had a net worth of US$1.7 billion (£1.3 billion) according to Forbes, was one of the key players in HNA’s aggressive expansion from a regional company to the massive conglomerate it is today.
HNA is the owner of Hainan Airlines, China’s fourth-largest airline and the largest private airline in China. Mr Wang held 15 per cent of the group’s shares.
‘He stood on the edge of a sharp drop to get his family to take a picture of him and fell,’ said lieutenant-colonel Hubert Meriaux of the Vaucluse gendarmerie force.
‘Witness accounts point to a likely accident,’ Mr Meriaux said, adding that an autopsy would be carried out to determine the cause of death, Reuters reported.
Witnesses described him falling from a small wall while traveling in the hilltop village of Bonnieux in Provence, according to Financial Times.