Lotte pledges jobs
THE chair of scandal-hit retail giant Lotte Group vowed yesterday to restore the company’s image and promised a multi-billion-dollar investment and job creation drive over the next five years.
Shin Dong-bin, together with his father and brother, has been indicted on charges of tax evasion and embezzlement following a lengthy corruption probe.
The indictment came on top of a bitter, and very public feud between Mr Shin and his older brother for control of the country’s fifthlargest family-run conglomerate.
“I deeply apologise for creating concern among the people over the prosecutors’ probe, as the fight over managerial rights has not yet been settled,” Mr Shin told a televised press conference. The Seoulbased group, founded in Tokyo in 1948, has a vast network of businesses in South Korea and Japan including department stores, hotels and processed food, with combined assets valued at more than US$90 billion.
“We have fallen short of people’s hopes and expectations,” Mr Shin said as he outlined a business plan aimed at boosting the national economy.
“Although market conditions are difficult here and abroad, we will invest 40 trillion won [US$35 billion] and newly hire 70,000 workers over the next five years”, he said.
The group will also reactivate a plan for an initial public offering of its hotel unit. Hotel Lotte, the country’s biggest operator of hotels and duty-free stores, shelved a potential $4.5 billion IPO it had planned for July because of a corruption probe into the unit.
Proceeds from the IPO could help sort out the group’s convoluted ownership structure based on complicated webs of cross shareholdings among subsidiaries and founding family members.
Mr Shin promised to “create a new Lotte” that would be “reborn” as a company with a transparent governance structure. –