Chen Feng to be sole chairman of China’s HNA Group

Following the untimely death of its co-founder Wang Jian, shares held by him of the debt-laden aviation-to-financial services conglomerate will be transferred to either a China-based charity or a New York-based foundation, which together hold a controlling stake in the conglomerate.

On Friday, China’s HNA Group stated, its co-founder Chen Feng will become its sole chairman following Co-Chairman Wang Jian’s death this week during a business trip in France.

Regarded as the architect of HNA’s $50 billion acquisition strategy, Wang died from what local police say appears to be an accidental fall from a wall while he was posing for a photograph.

Incidentally, the debt-laden HNA Group owns a range of overseas assets which include a stake in Deutsche Bank.

Following Wang’s untimely death, the group’s board has decided that Chen would assume the duties of Wang, while Adam Tan continues to be its CEO.

According to source familiar with the matter at hand, Wang was responsible for HNA’s strategy and ran day-to-day operations while Chen was the public face of the group.

“HNA’s board and senior management team are comprised of talented individuals with deep global experience, and a long track record of working together successfully,” said the HNA Group in a statement. “They remain focused on steering the company and its operations through this difficult period.”

Incidentally, Wang held a 15% stake in the aviation-to-financial services conglomerate. The HNA Group is controlled by a China-based charity and a New York-based foundation that together hold 52% of its shares. Chen also holds a 15% stake in the conglomerate.

Shareholders have promised that in the event of either leaving the company or in their demise, they would pass their stakes to the charity fund.

On Friday, HNA said the transfer of the HNA’s Group’s shares held by Wang will be “addressed in due course, consistent with his pledge to donate them to charity, and in accordance with all applicable legal and regulatory guidelines.”

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