HNA chairman Wang Jian dies in accident

A HNA Group logo is seen on the building of HNA Plaza in Beijing

Top Chinese executive dies after falling from wall in France

"HNA Group extends deepest condolences to Mr. Wang's family and many friends", HNA's board and management team said in a statement.

HNA declined to comment beyond saying the 57-year-old, in France on business, died after an accidental fall in Provence.

Social media posts about Wang's death appeared to have been censored on China's tightly controlled internet soon after the news was announced by the group.

Wang's death comes just over a month after HNA Group denied rumours that Chen had died. "But the long-term impact on the group will be limited".

Wang Jian, the cofounder and chairman of one of China's biggest conglomerates, HNA, has died during a business trip in France, the company said on Wednesday.

Wang held a 15 percent stake in HNA.

He was in charge of HNA's strategy and ran day-to-day operations, sources familiar with the matter have said, while his fellow chairman and co-founder Chen Feng was often the public face of the group.

The New York Times has this quote from local police: "He wanted to have his picture taken by someone in his group", and after climbing onto a low wall "he fell backwards, 10 to 15 meters further below".

Police are not treating his death as suspicious.

He was also the guest of honor at the Jewish Museum's 31st annual Purim Ball at the Park Avenue Armory in NY last year, where he was presented with a gift in front of 700 guests - a crystal bowl decorated with two gold roosters - to mark the Chinese calendar's year of the rooster.

The firm's $230 billion in assets includes a diverse global empire of businesses operating in aviation, tourism, and finance, and includes Hilton hotels and other marquee companies in the US, Europe and Australia. An HNA representative couldn't immediately comment.

The sources said that Wang woke up at one point and complained that "my feet hurt". HNA ranked 170th on the list past year, rising 183 spots.

Wang graduated from the Civil Aviation University of China and received an MBA from the Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands, according to his company. Borrowing costs soared as its interim report showed the conglomerate paid the highest interest expense among non-financial companies in Asia, a trend that continued through 2017. Under pressure from Beijing, HNA has since sold off many of those assets to slash debt.

However, the deal had looked increasingly uncertain because of liquidity problems that have seen HNA shed more than $20 billion of assets to pay down debt.

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