Caixin
BUSINESS & TECH

HNA Unveils New Leadership Lineup After Death of Co-Chairman Wang

HNA put the brakes on its rapid expansion and global shopping spree in late 2016. Photo: VCG
HNA put the brakes on its rapid expansion and global shopping spree in late 2016. Photo: VCG

Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co. Ltd. has reshuffled its board and top leadership in response to the accidental death July 3 of co-founder Wang Jian — one of the twin engines that turbocharged the company.

Caixin learned from separate sources that HNA issued several internal notices on Monday regarding leadership changes, including the naming of Chen Feng, co-founder and co-chairman of the company, as sole chairman.

Co-founder Wang, 57, who died in an accident in France, was the other co-chairman of HNA — though the older Chen was officially one rank above Wang. But Wang was seen as the leading architect of HNA’s highflying acquisitions over the past few years, during which the company snapped up billions of dollars of global assets that included stakes in Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG.

HNA put the brakes on its rapid expansion and global shopping spree in late 2016 amid tightening regulatory scrutiny over its financing and ownership structure. The company embarked on a selling campaign this year to pay down its debt after years of heavy spending.

In other leadership changes, Deputy CEO Zhang Ling will assume the additional, newly created position of company vice chairman, Caixin learned.

Also in this week’s reshuffle, the company expanded its board of directors to 12 members, adding Sun Mingyu and Bao Qifa as new members.

Sun, 65, is the chairman of the Hainan-registered Hainan Cihang Charity Foundation, which is to inherit Wang’s 15% stake in the company. The charity held 22.8% of HNA, according to a company disclosure last year. Sun will oversee HNA’s internal disciplinary commission.

Bao, 54, is the former chairman of Hainan Airlines Co., HNA’s flagship carrier. He was named a non-executive director of HNA to lead the company’s safety-related tasks.

HNA has been under the spotlight since Wang’s death. He fell more than 10 meters (32.8 feet) off a wall while taking photographs during a visit to Avignon in Provence, an area popular with tourists. Wang’s death fueled concerns over the company’s ongoing restructuring efforts and its ownership. 

Caixin learned last week that Wang’s holding in HNA will be donated to Hainan Cihang. Wang and co-founder Chen each held about 15% of HNA shares, according to a company disclosure last year. 

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com)

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