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HNA chairman tightens family's grip on group

HONG KONG • HNA Group chairman Chen Feng this month promoted two family members as key lieutenants, tightening his family's control over the embattled Chinese conglomerate after the sudden death of a top executive.

His son is now deputy chief executive officer of the group and will be responsible for HNA's global business, said sources. The 65-year-old chairman also named his nephew as group chief investment officer and executive chairman of an investment unit.

The management changes come as Mr Chen seeks to restore the confidence of banks, investors and the government in a group that is saddled with one of the biggest piles of debt in corporate China - more than US$85 billion (S$117 billion) as of the end of December.

The death of HNA co-chairman Wang Jian last month threw a wrench at the company's normalisation plans as he was said to be the mastermind behind the purchase of many of the assets that are now being sold.

"Changes at HNA that international investors would like to see may not come so soon," said credit research firm Bondcritic's managing partner Warut Promboon.

"The appointment of family members to run the business shows us HNA remains a traditional Asian company."

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