HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese conglomerate HNA Group said on Friday co-founder Chen Feng will become its sole chairman after Co-Chairman Wang Jian died during a business trip in France this week.
Wang, regarded as the architect of HNA’s $50 billion acquisition spree, died on July 3 in what local police said appeared to be an accidental fall from a wall while posing for a photograph.
The debt-laden conglomerate, which owns a range of overseas assets including a stake in Deutsche Bank <DBKGn.DE>, said the group’s board had decided that Chen would assume the duties of Wang, while Adam Tan will continue to serve as chief executive.
Wang was in charge of HNA’s strategy and ran day-to-day operations, sources familiar with the matter have said, while Chen was often 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,” the aviation-to-financial services conglomerate said in a statement.
“They remain focused on steering the company and its operations through this difficult period.”
Wang held a 15 percent stake in HNA. The group is controlled by a New York-based foundation and a China-based charity that together hold 52 percent of HNA shares. Chen also holds a 15 percent stake.
Shareholders have promised that in the event of leaving the company or dying they would pass their stakes to the charity fund.
HNA said on Friday that the transfer of the group 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.”
(Reporting by Julie Zhu and Kane Wu; Writing bu Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)