SAO PAULO Brazilian billionaire Edson de Godoy Bueno, who built a healthcare empire in his country that became UnitedHealth Group Inc's platform to expand in Latin America, died on Tuesday.
In a statement, UnitedHealth said Bueno, 73, had a heart attack earlier in the day in Buzios, a beach resort in Rio de Janeiro state. Bueno, a physician, had sold Amil Participações SA, the company he founded almost four decades ago, to UnitedHealth for $4.9 billion in 2010.
Bueno held the post of chief executive officer of Amil and a series of medical industry leadership roles. He was currently UnitedHealth's chairman for Latin America and the largest individual shareholder in the Hopkins, Minnesota-based company.
According to Forbes Magazine, Bueno was worth $3.1 billion as of February, making him Brazil's richest healthcare industry figure.
Bueno has been singled out as one of Brazil's most prominent self-made businessmen, with a penchant for acquisitions in medical services, hospitals and diagnostics laboratories. He started working as a shoeshiner at age 10, and studied and worked simultaneously until becoming a surgeon.
He founded Amil in the 1970s with his then-wife, Dulce Pugliese, with whom he also invested in Diagnósticos da America SA, one of Brazil's biggest listed laboratories.
He was currently divorced, according to several local media reports.
(Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Bill Trott)