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Sony chairman stable after stage collapse in Beijing

TOKYO, Japan -- Norio Ohga, chairman of electronics giant Sony Corp's board of directors, is in a stable condition after collapsing while conducting the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra in Beijing.

"He is conscious, and his condition is stable," a Sony spokesman in Tokyo told Reuters news agency.

Ohga, 71, was diagnosed with a light subarachnoid hemorrhage after suffering a "fainting spell" during a performance, and was rushed to the Beijing International Hospital.

A subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs when blood spills into the area that surrounds the brain.

The spokesman added the company had not heard any information that immediate surgery would be necessary, adding that Ohga would be staying at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing for treatment for the time being.

After Ohga collapsed, a doctor in the audience rushed onto the stage and administered first aid with the help of other spectators, China's Xinhua said.

The state-run news agency also said that Ohga flew to Beijing on Sunday on a Sony aircraft he piloted himself.

Ohga is credited with spearheading Sony's development of the compact disc and its push into music and movies in the 1980s. He became chairman of the Sony board in June 2000.

No direct impact

Sony said that the fainting incident would have no direct impact on the company's business operations since Nobuyuki Idei, Sony's chief executive officer, has more direct operational responsibility.

"Sony is now led by chief executive Idei, chief operating officer (Kunitake) Ando and chief financial officer (Teruhisa) Tokunaka in a troika system...No direct impact is likely on Sony's business operations," a second Sony spokesman said.

Shares in Sony reacted little to the news in Thursday morning Tokyo trade, and at 0120 GMT were up 1.06 percent at 4,760 yen, outperforming a 0.29 percent rise in the key Nikkei average.

Ohga, who gave up a career in opera to join Sony in 1953, took a leading role in Sony's development of the CD, which was launched with Philips in 1982.

He 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, who also serves as board chairman of Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, was scheduled to give two performances -- on Wednesday and Thursday -- at the Beijing music festival, which has been under way since October 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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