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OBITUARIES / Passings / Wang Yung-ching

Headed Formosa Plastics Group

October 17, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Wang Yung-ching, 91, a businessman who built his Formosa Plastics Group into Taiwan's biggest and most profitable manufacturing conglomerate, died Wednesday during a business trip to the United States, the firm said in a brief statement. Taipei TV stations reported that Wang died of cardiac arrest in a New Jersey hospital.

A farmer's son with only an elementary school education, Wang set up a rice store with his two brothers in his early 20s. He then established the Formosa Plastics Corp. in 1954 with a loan from a U.S. aid program.

Forbes listed Wang as the island's second-wealthiest person this year, with a personal fortune estimated at $6.8 billion.

Known widely as the "god of management," Wang expanded his plastics and petrochemicals empire and diversified into electronics, cosmetics, hospitals and car manufacturing.

A strong proponent of closer economic ties with rival China, Wang invested in power plants and plastics factories on the Chinese mainland. Formosa Plastics also set up chemical companies in the U.S. and owns several oil wells and properties rich in natural gas in Texas.

A recent survey by Chunghwa Credit Information Service listed Formosa Plastics Group as Taiwan's most profitable conglomerate, with $6.7 billion in profits after tax last year.

But Wang's group has been criticized by environmentalists. Formosa Plastics was accused in 1998 of dumping 3,000 tons of waste contaminated with high levels of mercury near the Cambodian port city of Sihanoukville, causing a local panic. The company later agreed to ship the waste back to Taiwan.

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