Chinese billionaire, Wang Jian dies after falling off a wall in Bonnieux, Southern France
Chinese Billionare Wang Jian has died after a falling off a wall while sightseeing in Bonnieux, Southern France, Fench media reports.
His firm made a statement confirming the incident saying;
“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”.
Wang, whose conglomerate HNA Group owns a host of foreign assets suffered the fatal accident on Tuesday in the picturesque hillside village of Bonnieux after climbing onto a parapet, either to see the view of the valley below or to have his photograph taken, local security sources told AFP.
“He jumped up on to the wall and was carried over it by his own momentum,” a source close to the case told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The 57-year-old businessman, the co-founder of HNA and its second-highest ranking executive, fell into a 10-metre (32-foot) void, sustaining serious injuries that emergency services were unable to treat at the site.
HNA said Wang, whose personal fortune is estimated at 1.7 billion dollars by Forbes magazine, had been visiting Bonnieux, a mediaeval village and favoured destination for the rich and famous in southern France.
The company started as a small provincial airline servicing China’s Hainan Province but has expanded quickly in recent years under the leadership of Wang and business partner Chen Feng.
The firm’s $230 billion in assets were built up during a foreign buying spree that saw it diversify into tourism and finance via major deals to buy shares in companies including the Hilton hotels group and Deutsche Bank.
It also took stakes in foreign airlines such as Virgin Australia, France’s Aigle Azur and TAP in Portugal.
But HNA came under pressure last year as Beijing cracked down on the risky debt-fuelled financing that enabled its expansion.
The conglomerate is reportedly selling parts of its empire to pay down its loans, including its Hilton and Deutsche Bank shares, and Wang’s death was seen as likely to complicate the unwinding process.