BEIJING — Wang Jian, co-chairman of Dufry-owner HNA Group, has died in an accident in France, the Chinese conglomerate announced Wednesday afternoon. He was 57.
Wang was in Provence on a business trip when the accident occurred, the company said, but provided no further details.
“HNA Group extends its deepest condolences to Mr. Wang’s family and many friends,” said the HNA board and management team, which is led by cofounder and chairman Chen Feng and chief executive officer Adam Tan.
“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.”
The group became known for its global acquisition spree, snapping up stakes in Dufry, the world’s largest travel retail company, to complement its retail portfolio, which includes 17 department stores in China and more than 1,600 retail stores. It also has diverse investments in many industries ranging from Deutsche Bank, Hilton Worldwide Holdings and the Radisson Hotel Group.
Heavy debt had also caught up with HNA and, in recent months, the company off-loaded $13 billion of assets, and is said to be looking to sell more.
HNA Group was founded in 1993 as an aviation company, but operates across the areas of retail, hospitality, tourism, real estate, finance, logistics, shipbuilding and eco-tech. Its retail division operates 1.22 million square meters across China.