Sony Chairman Ohga hospitalized

By | November 8, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Norio Ohga, chairman of the Sony Corp. board of directors, was hospitalized Wednesday after suffering a “fainting spell” while conducting the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra at the Beijing International Festival, a company spokeswoman said.

Ohga was in stable condition and conscious, the spokeswoman said. Further details were not available.

Ohga, credited with spearheading Sony’s development of the compact disc and its push into music and movies in the 1980s, assumed the largely ceremonial post of chairman of the Sony board in June 2000. Nobuyuki Idei is Sony’s chief executive officer and has more direct operational responsibility.

Shares of Sony fell 6 percent, or $2.50, to close at $39.30 on the New York Stock Exchange.

China’s Xinhua news agency said Ohga collapsed after apparently suffering a minor stroke. The agency said the 71-year-old executive was sent to the China-Japan Friendship Hospital for treatment and was diagnosed as suffering from a cerebral hemorrhage.

Doctors said Ohga would not need surgery, Xinhua said.

Ohga, who gave up a career in opera to join Sony in 1953, is credited with taking a leading role in Sony’s development of the CD, which was launched with Philips in 1982. Ohga was also a central figure in Sony’s acquisitions of a major record label, CBS Records, and a Hollywood movie studio, Columbia Pictures, in the late 1980s.

Ohga, a noted amateur musician, flew to Beijing Sunday on a Sony aircraft he piloted himself, according to Xinhua.

Ohga, who serves as board chairman of Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, was scheduled to give two performances – Wednesday and Thursday – at the Beijing music festival, which has been under way since Oct. 15.

He is a graduate of Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and served as Sony president from 1989 to 1995.

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