Yulon Group (裕隆集團) chief executive officer Kenneth Yen (嚴凱泰) died yesterday at the age of 54, Yulon Motor Co (裕隆汽車) announced in a statement.
Yen’s wife, Lilian Chen (嚴陳莉蓮), is to take over for her husband, and corporate operations would not be affected by Yen’s death, the statement said.
The statement did not specify the cause of Yen’s death, but Chinese-language media reports, citing unnamed sources at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, said Yen had been treated at the hospital for some time for esophageal cancer.
Photo: Yang Ya-min, Taipei Times
The news caught many off guard, although media reports said Yen’s absence from an investors’ conference in June had aroused speculations about his health.
Yulon Group at the time said he had taken a day off due to a leg injury.
Yen was the only child of Yen Ching-ling (嚴慶齡), the founder of Yulon Group, and “Iron Lady” Vivian Shun-wen Wu (吳舜文), the group’s former chairwoman.
He studied at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and after returning home in 1989, he joined the automaker as a vice president.
He was appointed the group’s chief executive officer in 1990.
After Yulon Motor reported losses for the third consecutive year in 1995, Yen decided to restructure the automaker by moving its Taipei office and plant in what was then Sindian, Taipei County, to a site in Miaoli County’s Sanyi Township (三義) to lower overheads and to integrate the office and factory.
Under his leadership, Yulon Motor introduced the Cefiro passenger car in 1995, which became the best-selling vehicle in the nation and helped turn around the company.
Yen took over as chairman of Yulon Motor in 2007 from his mother and expanded the group’s business scope to industries including textiles, electronics and construction.
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