Lotte Holdings weighs timing of crucial shareholder vote amid succession battle

Lotte Holdings, the Japan-based holding company of South Korea's Lotte Group, is considering when to hold a shareholder meeting, amid a succession battle between the two sons of the group's founder.
Lotte Holdings, the Japan-based holding company of South Korea's Lotte Group, is considering when to hold a shareholder meeting, amid a succession battle between the two sons of the group's founder. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SEOUL (REUTERS) - The holding company for Lotte Group’s businesses in South Korea and Japan is considering when to hold a shareholder meeting which could determine who controls the sprawling Asian conglomerate, a son of the founder of the firm at the centre of a family feud over succession said on Monday.  

The battle over who will succeed 92-year-old founder Shin Kyuk-ho at the helm of Lotte Group has riveted South Korea, where the Lotte brand is ubiquitous.  

The company is South Korea’s fifth-largest conglomerate and one of the most complex in terms of shareholding structures in a country renowned for family-run firms with opaque ownership frameworks.  

The founder’s younger son, Seoul-based Shin Dong-bin, has since last week publicly fought his Tokyo-based older brother, Shin Dong-joo, for control of Lotte Holdings, the holding company for the empire that spans retail, hotels and chemicals.  

Shin Dong-bin, a chief executive at Lotte Holdings, is disputing the validity of a document that relieves him of all his positions at the group. Both he and his elder brother also say their bids to control the firm have the support of shareholders.  

Speaking to reporters after a trip to Japan, Shin Dong-bin said Lotte Holdings is debating when to meet to sort out the succession. “I hope this situation is resolved soon,” the 60-year-old said at Seoul’s Gimpo airport. “It’s my role to quickly normalise and develop our companies based here and abroad.”  

Lotte Group of Korea spokesman said Shin Dong-bin had also briefly met his father on Monday, but declined to give any details about what was discussed.  

When asked if the group might be split between the brothers, the spokesman added: “That will never happen. Never.”  

Lotte has more than 400 cross-shareholding connections between its 80 Korean units alone, eight of which are listed. All 37 of its Japanese companies are unlisted.