Taiwan billionaire shipping tycoon Chang Yung-fa dies aged 90

The founder of Evergreen Marine Corp, Mr Chang Yung-fa, has died. PHOTO: ST FILE

TAIPEI (AFP) - The founder of one of the world's largest shipping companies, the billionaire Taiwanese tycoon Chang Yung-fa, has died on Wednesday (Jan 20) aged 90, his company said.

Mr Chang started Evergreen Marine Corp in 1968 with a single cargo vessel, today it has more than 160 ships and his sprawling business empire is one of the island's leading conglomerates.

"Mr Chang Yung-fa passed away peacefully this morning... The Evergreen Group staff are saddened by this news and mourn him," the company said in a statement.

It did not disclose the cause of death.

Mr Chang and his family also control EVA Air - Taiwan's second largest carrier - an international chain of hotels and a steel corporation.

He ranked 17th in the list of Taiwan's richest people with an estimated wealth of US$1.6 billion (S$2.3 billion) in 2015, according to Forbes magazine.

He had pledged to donate all his assets to charities in 2012.

President Ma Ying-jeou praised Mr Chang for his "extraordinary contributions", his office said.

A statement from the Democratic Progressive Party, which will become the island's ruling party in May after securing a landslide victory at last weekend's elections, said in a statement: "Mr Chang had a legendary life and was the entrepreneur who best represented Taiwan.

"Taiwan loses an exemplary entrepreneur and his accomplishment and contribution will be remembered by the Taiwanese people," the statement said.

The Evergreen Group also runs a charitable foundation, a symphony orchestra and a maritime museum.

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