Samsung chair Lee Kun-hee suffers heart attack

2014-05-12 08:45

Seoul, South Korea – Samsung chairperson Lee Kun-hee has been hospitalised in stable condition at a Seoul hospital after suffering a heart attack, company officials told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

Lee (72) was rushed to a hospital near his home in central Seoul late on Saturday after experiencing breathing problems and received CPR due to heart attack symptoms, company officials said.

He was then rushed to Samsung Medical Center, where he underwent a stent placement procedure early yesterday, in which tubes were inserted into his body to widen blood vessels to prevent a heart attack.

“He is in a very stable condition and is resting,” an unidentified Samsung official told Yonhap.

Officials from Samsung Medical Center later said Lee’s spontaneous breathing returned shortly after the operation but he would remain on a breathing apparatus while recovering, Yonhap said.

Hospital officials told reporters that they “expect good results” due to the swift medical intervention and did not expect any permanent condition, such as brain damage. They did not say how long Lee was expected to remain hospitalised.

Lee, the de facto chairperson of Samsung Group, South Korea’s largest conglomerate, has a history of medical problems.

He has been suffering from respiratory complications since undergoing lung surgery in the late 1990s, and was hospitalised last August for treatment of pneumonia, Yonhap said. He returned to Seoul in April after spending the winter in the US to prevent respiratory ailments.

Calls and emails to Samsung were not immediately returned yesterday afternoon.

Samsung has a top-heavy command structure that centres on the founding family. Lee Kun-hee is the third son of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul and was tapped in 1979 by his father to lead what would become South Korea’s most valuable company - a global leader in smartphones, TVs, household appliances and home entertainment systems.

The conglomerate also has life insurance, hotel, construction, chemical industry, fashion and media businesses.

The company’s business operations are run by three chief executives, though Lee Kun-hee, as the head of the flagship electronics division, wields significant control over the company’s direction.

Analysts told Yonhap that the Samsung Group had recently been carrying out a broad range of mergers and restructuring in what is believed to be preparations for handing over the reins to Lee’s three children – a son and two daughters.

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