Lotte family's younger son tightens grip on firm

Shin Dong Bin
Shin Dong Bin

TOKYO/SEOUL • The younger son of the Lotte Group's founding family has strengthened his hold on the Japanese-Korean conglomerate, winning the backing of shareholders at a key Tokyo-based holding company, amid a bitter succession feud with his elder brother.

Lotte Holdings' shareholders approved a plan for "stable leadership" under co-chief executive Shin Dong Bin, the younger son of 92-year-old founder Shin Kyuk Ho, the company said yesterday. It is the biggest shareholder of Seoul-based Hotel Lotte Co which, in turn, owns large stakes in group affiliates across South Korea.

The vote had been closely watched to see if Mr Shin, who is also the chairman of Seoul-based Lotte Group, would muster sufficient support after elder brother Shin Dong Joo said he and his father were opposed to his younger brother gaining sole control of the conglomerate.

The conglomerate, with operations that span retail, confectionery, hotels and chemicals, had until last year been divided, with the younger brother running the much bigger South Korean operations and the elder running the Japan businesses.

The elder son appeared to fall out of favour early this year but later seemed to regain his father's support. Family infighting escalated in July after the father and elder son flew to Tokyo to dismiss the board at Lotte Holdings - an attempted coup that failed after the younger son sacked his father as co-chief executive of the Japan-based firm.

Lotte Group has since said that the founder has "difficulties making judgments". Thirty-seven CEOs at Lotte's South Korean units have also publicly voiced their support for Mr Shin Dong Bin.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2015, with the headline 'Lotte family's younger son tightens grip on firm'. Print Edition | Subscribe