Samsung chairman hospitalised after heart attack

Lee Kun-hee has a history of medical problems

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 May, 2014, 10:42am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 May, 2014, 5:21pm

Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee remained hospitalised in stable condition on Monday after being treated for a heart attack, company officials said.

Lee, 72, was rushed to a hospital near his Seoul home late on Saturday after suffering breathing problems and received CPR due to symptoms of a heart attack. He was later transferred to a Samsung-affiliated hospital in Seoul, Samsung Medical Centre, where he underwent a stent placement procedure early on Sunday in which tubes were inserted into his body to widen blood vessels to prevent a heart attack, according to Keich Lee, a spokeswoman at Samsung Global Communications.

The Samsung Group said in a statement on Sunday that Lee “is in stable condition and making a recovery.”

The Samsung spokeswoman said on Monday that Lee’s spontaneous breathing returned shortly after the operation and hospital officials expect good results. She said Lee remained hospitalised on Monday.

Lee, the de facto chairman of Samsung Group, which is 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. He returned to Seoul in April after spending the winter season in the US to prevent respiratory ailments.

Lee is also a high-ranking South Korean member of the International Olympic Committee.

Samsung Electronics has a top-heavy command structure that centres on the founding family. Lee Kun-hee is the third son of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull 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 owns businesses in life insurance, hotel, construction, shipbuilding, chemical industry, fashion, credit card and other areas.

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

The Samsung Group has recently been carrying out a broad range of mergers and reorganisations in what analysts say are preparations for handing over the reins to Lee’s three children - a son and two daughters.

Shares of Samsung Electronics rose 1.4 per cent in Seoul on Monday.