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Low-key funeral held for Uni-President founder

2016/04/01 12:54

Taipei, April 1 (CNA) A private funeral for Kao Chin-yen (高清愿), founder and honorary chairman of Uni-President Enterprises Corp., was held at his residence in Yongkang District in Tainan, southern Taiwan, on Friday.

A black hearse was seen leaving the gates of the family residence in Yongkang, partly hidden by funeral service personnel holding black umbrellas, and heading toward a crematorium in the southern area of the city.

Kao, 87, reportedly died last week but his death was not confirmed until Friday. His funeral was attended only by his family and friends and employees of Uni-President.

Born May 24, 1929 in Tainan, Kao was from a poor family and was not formally educated beyond elementary school. He founded Uni-President in 1967 and served as its chairman until 2013.

He was granted an honorary doctoral law degree by Lincoln University in the United States, and an honorary doctoral degree in business management by Taiwan's National Sun Yat-sen University.

Kao's business empire included food, retail, leisure, and express delivery services and he also owned a baseball team.

"Poverty taught me to cherish blessings, growth taught me to be thankful, and duty taught me to create selflessly," was one of his most famous quotes.

[Kao (third right) opens the 500th 7-Eleven in Taiwan, in Taipei's Ximending June 26, 1990. The store is still there, while the chain has grown to more than 5,000 stores.]

His company's international footprint expanded in the 1990s, with manufacturing bases set up in China, Indonesia, Thailand and other countries.

Kao handed over the business in Nov. 2013 to his son-in-law Lo Chih-hsien (羅智先), who is now chairman and president of the company. Kao had only one child.

Stocks of companies affiliated with the Uni-President Group fell moderately in early trade Friday, with Uni-President Enterprises slipping 1.77 percent to NT$55.5 (US$1.72) and President Chain Store Corp. dropping 1.1 percent to NT$232, but they later rebounded.

Last year, Uni-President Enterprises recorded consolidated annual revenue of NT$416.4 billion and an after-tax net profit of NT$14.1 billion.

President Chain Store's consolidated annual revenue grew 2.52 percent last year to NT$205.5 billion, while its earnings per share was NT$7.92, both record high figures for the company.

(By Yang Sz-ruei, Tien Yu-pin and Elizabeth Hsu)ENDITEM/pc