Chinese tycoon Wang Jian dies in fall from wall in France after ‘posing for photo’

The 57-year old, credited with driving a massive expansion as co-chair of investment firm HNA Group, fell almost 10 metres (32 feet) after climbing onto a parapet in Bonnieux, a medieval village in the Provence area.

Police suggested he either overbalanced while looking at the view below or had been trying to position himself to pose for a photo.

“He jumped up on to the wall and was carried over it by his own momentum,” a source close to the incident told the AFP news agency.

It is being treated as an accident by both the authorities and HNA Group.

HNA, under Wang and his business partner, grew from being a small airline based in China’s Hainan Province to a company with $230bn in assets including significant stakes in companies such as Hilton Hotels and Deutsche Bank.

However, HNA started to sell large chunks of its international interests in the wake of a crackdown by Chinese authorities on debt-fuelled financing.

HNA reported a 36% leap in its debt pile at the end of 2017 of almost $95bn compared to a year earlier, while the Financial Times reported in January that HNA was offering high returns for short-term loans.

HNA responded to news of Mr Wang’s death by 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.”

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