S. Korea’s Lotte fam­ily ri­vals flock be­fore vote

The China Post - - ASIA - BY BAE JI- SOOK

Friendly pow­ers of Lotte Group founder Shin Kyuk-ho are flock­ing to­gether to se­cure their col­lec­tive in­flu­en­tial stake un­der the sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion lead­er­ship of the 90 tril­lion won ( US$77 bil­lion) busi­ness em­pire.

The founder’s re­cently ousted eldest son Shin Dong-joo ap­pealed to his rel­a­tives and the public in South Korea, while his younger brother — Lotte Chair­man Shin Dong-bin — has been per­suad­ing Ja­panese in­vestors for sup­port at the yet-to-be sched­uled Lotte Hold­ing’s share­hold­ers meet­ing. The kin are di­vided over their sup­port, hop­ing for their voices to be heard in the com­pany that en­com­passes Asia and the U.S.

Lotte Hold­ings in Ja­pan

is the de facto hold­ing com­pany of Lotte Group. Both Dong-joo and Dong­bin are re­ported to have equal stake in the com­pany, and win­ning the sup­port of other share­hold­ers will be cru­cial for the feud­ing broth­ers.

On Fri­day af­ter­noon, the sib­lings’ un­cle and Sansasu Shoji CEO Shin Sun-ho ar­rived from Ja­pan at Gimpo In­ter­na­tional Air­port. The of­fi­cial rea­son for his visit was to at­tend the an­nual re­mem­brance ser­vice of his fa­ther Shin Jin-su, but he didn‘t hide his true in­ten­tions, pub­licly sid­ing with Dongjoo, who was di­vested of Lotte Hold­ings’ pres­i­dency and re­placed by Dong-bin on July 16.

“Honorary Chair­man Shin Kyukho thinks he has been robbed of con­trol (of Lotte) by his sec­ond son. To him, the le­git­i­mate heir (of Lotte) is Dong-joo,“Shin Sun-ho told re­porters in Seoul.

Sun- ho was ex­pected to be joined in Seoul by the broth­ers’ cousin and sports unit Lotte Giants CEO Shin Dong-in as well as by their el­der sis­ter, Young-ja, who are also part of the “pro-Dong-joo” fac­tion. Their mother, Shigemitsu Hat­suko, also flew in from Ja­pan to at­tend the cer­e­mony, and is re­port­edly call­ing for a truce be­tween the broth­ers.

The Shin clan was ex­pected to hold a meet­ing af­ter the an­nual rit­ual, but the plans col­lapsed Fri­day morn­ing when Dong-bin sud­denly called off his at­ten­dance. The rest of the fam­ily have re­port­edly held dis­cus­sion, but the con­tent re­mains undis­closed.

“The chair­man is en­gaged in sev­eral af­fairs in Ja­pan. We are not sure whether he will re­turn by the end of the week,” a Lotte spokesman said.

‘Makes us doubt whether he is

able to think straight’

“This could be a se­ri­ous prob­lem be­cause Shin Kyuk-ho val­ues his fa­ther’s re­mem­brance ser­vice and could take this very per­son­ally. This may af­fect not only the se­nior Shin, but other mem­bers who may think Dong-bin is shun­ning them. It may be­come Dong-bin vs. the oth­ers,” a Lotte in­sider said.

The fra­ter­nal feud was taken to a new level Thurs­day and Fri­day when Dong- joo held an in­ter­view with lo­cal broad­caster KBS claim­ing that Shin Kyuk-ho was plan­ning to re­in­state him as the group’s crown prince.

He sug­gested a pile

of docu- ments di­rected by the se­nior Shin sack­ing Dong-bin and his aides from the ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion of Lotte Hold­ings. It also or­ders Dong-joo to be re­in­stated as the pres­i­dent of Lotte Hold­ings.

In an au­dio file, the se­nior Shin is distinc­tively up­set af­ter re­ported by Dong-joo that Dong-bin was still work­ing at Lotte Hold­ings and or­ders to “stop him what­ever it takes.”

“Ev­ery­one is say­ing that Tues­day’s may­hem is a coup un­der my or­ches­tra­tion. But this has been my fa­ther’s de­sire for a while,” he said.

Lotte Group, which is firmly un­der the con­trol of Dong-bin for the mo­ment, lam­basted the state­ment and even blamed the se­nior Shin’s se­nil­ity for caus­ing the fi­asco.

“Let alone the le­git­i­macy of the doc­u­ments that have not even gained ap­proval from the board mem­bers, the fact that the gen­eral chair­man has even thought of this makes us doubt whether he is able to think straight over the mat­ter,” a Lotte of­fi­cial was quoted as say­ing.

“The gen­eral chair­man al­ways uses stamps when mak­ing or­ders, but here he used his sig­na­ture. This means that some­thing wasn’t nor­mal when he signed it,” he added.

Lotte Group had ear­lier com­mented that the se­nior Shin had been talked into the scheme with­out know­ing the truth. The com­pany also said that even if Shin Kyukho’s will­ing­ness is se­ri­ous enough to con­sti­tute a gen­eral chair­man’s or­der, the board of di­rec­tors’ de­ci­sion is more lig­iti­mate.

Mean­while, in­dus­trial ex­perts noted that the public an­tipa­thy to­ward the fra­ter­nal feud was taken to a new level af­ter Dongjoo’s Thurs­day in­ter­view held in Ja­panese por­trayed his in­abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate with Kore­ans. On Fri­day’s rev­e­la­tion, the fa­ther Kyuk-ho and Dong-joo con­verse in Ja­panese, even call­ing each other by Ja­panese names.

Though both Dong-joo and Dong-bin hold Korean na­tion­al­ity, ru­mors have been ram­pant that they can­not speak Korean and lack un­der­stand­ing in the coun­try’s cul­ture and busi­nesses.

“Peo­ple have once again re­al­ized that the heads of Lotte are more Ja­panese than Korean and are deeply dis­ap­pointed. The stock prices started to go un­sta­ble, re­flect­ing the sen­ti­ment, and who­ever wins, this isn’t help­ing any­one,” a mar­ket in­sider was quoted as say­ing.

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