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April 24, 2017

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Taiwan Cement chief dies after fall

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Koo Cheng-yun (辜成允), chairman and president of Taiwan Cement Corp. (台泥), died Monday morning after sustaining critical injuries from a fall on Saturday, the company confirmed. He was 62.

Koo's brother-in-law, Chang An-ping (張安平), who is also on the company's board of directors, will replace him as chairman of Taiwan Cement, the company announced after an emergency board meeting.

Chang will also step into Koo's other positions, taking the chairmanship of the China Synthetic Rubber Corporation and the Taiwan Prosperity Chemical Corporation.

Critics questioned whether Chang was qualified for the job, saying his hands were already full with managing the L'Hotel de Chine Group.

In response, Chang said that he would "spend most of the time on Taiwan Cement."

"It's not my first day making cement," he said, reassuring skeptics that he has been working in the industry for over 40 years and had chaired other cement companies.

Koo's Death

The business magnate was rushed to a hospital Saturday after tumbling down a flight of stairs in Regent Taipei, where he was attending a wedding banquet.

He was taken to Mackay Memorial Hospital for emergency treatment, where he remained in an intensive care unit. Koo sustained massive head injuries and was later transferred to Cheng Hsin Hospital.

Rebutting rumors that Koo was drunk when he fell, Lin Por-fong (林伯豐), chairman of the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (工商協進會) who also attended the banquet, said that Koo was "speaking perfectly clearly" and "didn't seem drunk at all."

"He should have taken the elevator," Lin said.

Koo's son arrived at the Taipei District Prosecutors Office late Monday, apparently in disbelief over his father's sudden death and insisting that he review the late Koo's medical records.

Prosecutors said that witnesses claimed that Koo fell off the stairs, but Regent Taipei's surveillance camera were not placed at an angle that allowed them to record the fall.

An investigation has been launched to look into Koo's death, prosecutors said.

Stocks Steady

Contrary to expectations, Taiwan Cement's stock prices held strong yesterday despite Koo's death.

Experts contributed the stability to the corporation's long-lasting sustainability, which kept investors at ease.

The late Koo Cheng-yun — second son of former Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) — took over the Taiwan Cement in 2003, which was then NT$30 billion in debt.

Koo was known for being an aggressive manager who was a gentleman with a sense of humor in his personal life.

During his 13-year tenure, Taiwan Cement's stock prices jumped almost four-fold, elevating the company from a small enterprise to among the world's top 12 cement manufacturers.

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